gHacks Technology News http://www.ghacks.net The independent technology news blog Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:04:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.3 Windows 10 Creators Update: new and removed features http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/windows-10-creators-update-new-and-removed-features/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/windows-10-creators-update-new-and-removed-features/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2017 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131708 The Windows 10 Creators Update is the third big feature update for Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system (after the November Update, and the Anniversary Update). The following guide provides you with an overview of new features of the Windows 10 Creators Update, of features that changed, and of features that Microsoft removed. While called the […]

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The Windows 10 Creators Update is the third big feature update for Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system (after the November Update, and the Anniversary Update).

The following guide provides you with an overview of new features of the Windows 10 Creators Update, of features that changed, and of features that Microsoft removed.

While called the Creators Update, only some of the features introduced assist users when it comes to "creating things". Microsoft itself never failed to mention the new Paint 3D application for instance, which adds 3D creation options as a core new feature to the operating system. There is also Windows Ink, and a couple of other features.

Microsoft features Paint 3D, Mixed Reality, and gaming on its website as the core features of the Creators Update.

Windows 10 Creators Update: new features

Compact Overlay Windows

pip

Windows Apps may use a new feature called Compact Overlay Window which displays one app on top of another in a small picture.

Microsoft's screenshot showed Excel, and in the top right corner a video that played at the same time. Can be used for video chat apps like Skype as well.

Verdict: may be useful,if you use the supported apps.

Dynamic Lock

windows 10 dynamic lock

Dynamic Lock is a new feature that requires a compatible Bluetooth device. It allows you to have Windows 10 lock the PC automatically when you move away from the device.

Once set up, Windows 10 monitors the Bluetooth device constantly, and locks the PC if the device is not detected for 30 seconds at a time.

You find the new option in the Settings application under Account > Sign-in options

Verdict: may be useful to users who forget to lock their PC regularly, and take their PC with them when they move away from it.

Game Mode, Broadcasting and other gaming improvements

game mode

Microsoft rediscovered the PC as a gaming machine recently. This resulted in Play Anywhere among other things which brought games designed for Microsoft's Xbox to PCs at no additional cost.

The new Game Mode feature is a specialized mode designed to improve game performance on devices running Windows 10.

You may turn Game Mode on or off in the Settings application under Gaming > Game Mode.

We ran benchmarks when it came out, and were not impressed. PC Gamer ran benchmarks in February 2017, which confirmed our findings. It looks a lot like any other game booster out there right now, unless we have overlooked something.

Microsoft stated that Game Mode would be more beneficial to Windows Store games, and less to desktop programs.

The built-in Game DVR feature of Windows 10 supports broadcasting now. It allows you to stream games to Xbox Live. Friends receive a notification when you start to stream. The feature is limited to streaming to Xbox Live though.

Windows Store games may be distributed with drivers when the Creators Update lands. This is done to make sure that compatible or required drivers are used to play those games.

Additionally, support for Windows Display Driver Model 2.2 (WDDM 2.2) and HDR is now available.

Verdict: a mixed basket. Game Mode does not look like the killer feature that Microsoft made it look like. Broadcasting is interesting for Xbox One owners who use Xbox Live and a Windows PC for gaming. Support for new features is always welcome.

Mixed Reality

windows mixed reality

Microsoft rebranded Windows Holographic to Windows Mixed Reality. The new "mixed reality shell" of Windows 10 allows users to purchase virtual reality headsets -- low cost -- to experience virtual reality on the device.

Recommended specs:

  • CPU: Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g. 7200U) Dual-Core with Hyperthreading equivalent
  • GPU: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API Capable GPU
  • RAM: 8GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880 x 1440 @ 60 Hz
  • HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880 x 1440 @ 90 Hz
  • Storage: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred) / HDD
  • Bluetooth: 4.0 and above for accessories.

Verdict: niche, but in preparation of things to come.

Night Light

night light mode

Night Light, formerly known as Blue Light mode, reduces blue light at night as it is beneficial to a person's circadian rhythm.

The built-in feature works similar to features that third-party applications like F.Lux have offered for years.

You find the option to enable and configure Night Light mode in the Settings under System > Display.

You may run the feature manually at any time, schedule it to run automatically from sunset to sunrise, set hours manually, and set the desired color temperature at night.

Verdict: useful, especially if you work on the computer late at night or early in the morning.

Paint 3D

paint 3d

One of the major new features of the Windows 10 Creators Update, at least when it comes to Microsoft's promotion of new features, is Paint 3D.

Paint 3D is a modernized version of the classic Paint desktop application. The focus of Paint 3D is the creation of 3D content. Microsoft showcased a new Windows Capture 3D application for that during presentations which used the device's camera to capture an object in 3D.

Support for 3D objects has been added to Office PowerPoint and Microsoft Edge as well. There is also a new View 3D app that allows you to view 3D models.

Verdict: very niche, and the changed interface may not be to everyone's liking.

Start Menu: App Groups

app groups

App Groups allow you to group apps or programs into single tiles on the Windows 10 Start Menu. They act like folders for the most part, but expand on the start menu when you click on them.

To create a new app group, simply drag one tile on another. A group is created automatically that you can move around just like any other tile.

Verdict: useful if you have lots of tiles on the start menu and want more order.

Windows Store: ebooks

windows store ebooks

Windows Store features a new ebook section in the Creators Update. The new Books section is listed in the top menu on Windows Store.

Click on it to open the selection, and browse bestsellers, new books, or featured collections there. The store features a selection of free ebooks, but you need to add a payment method to the Store prior to downloading any of them to the local device.

The ebooks are offered as PDF documents, and are meant to be read in Microsoft Edge which Microsoft improved for that purpose.

Verdict: if you are invested in Windows Store already, you may like the ebook section.

Windows Store: theme downloads

windows store themes

The second new feature that Microsoft did integrate in Windows Store is themes, or more precisely, an option to download themes for the Windows 10 operating system.

There is no direct themes link when you open the Store, and the only option you have to my best knowledge is to right-click on the desktop, select personalize from the menu, then themes when the Personalization settings app opens, and finally on that page the new "get more themes in the Store" option.

The themes are basic Windows 10 themes. This means that they change wallpapers and the color scheme for the most part, but leave icons, and other interface elements untouched.

Verdict: useful to users who like pretty background pictures.

Windows 10 Creators Update: Improvements

Cortana improvements

Microsoft's work on Cortana continues. The personal digital assistant supports a whole range of new features including:

  • Control the system volume.
  • Full-screen display when PC is idle.
  • Notification sync.
  • Option to continue where you stopped on different Windows 10 PCs.
  • Recurring reminders.
  • Support for Azure Active Directory sign-ins.
  • Universal Clipboard to sync clipboard data across devices.
  • Voice commands to change the PC's power state (restart, lock, sleep, turn off)
  • Windows Setup Experience supports Cortana.

Improved DPI support

high dpi windows 10 creators update

The Windows Creators update ships with improved support for desktop apps on high DPI displays. Some apps ship with these improvements by default, but you can enable them for applications where this is not the case as well.

You enable this by right-clicking on the executable file and selecting properties. Switch to compatibility when the properties window opens, enable "override high DPI scaling behavior", and set it to "System (Enhanced)".

Verdict: very useful if you run Windows 10 on a high DPI screen.

Microsoft Edge

microsoft edge creators update

Microsoft Edge received a lot of new features and improvements. The browser blocks Flash by default now, and supports WebRTC 1.0 among other new technologies now. Other new features of the default browser include:

  • Better bookmarks importing functionality.
  • EPUB support.
  • Full color emoji.
  • Jump List support.
  • Read Aloud mode for ebooks.
  • Run option for downloads.
  • Set aside tabs for later reading, and sharing.
  • Tab Preview bar.
  • Web-to-app linking.
  • Web Notes improvements to "leverage the familiar Windows Ink experience".
  • Web Payments support.
  • WebVR support.

Verdict: useful if you use Microsoft Edge

Privacy changes

windows 10 creators update privacy

Microsoft been criticized since day one for the lack of privacy options on Windows 10, and the lack of information in regards to what the company collects and how it processes what it collects.

One of the changes is a new setup experience. It offers a "choose privacy settings for your device" page that allows you to make some privacy related choices on a single page.

Microsoft did remove the "enhanced" Telemetry level. Users may select Basic or Full now, but still not "none" unless they run an Enterprise version of Windows 10.

Verdict: changes may simplify things, but they don't address the main complaints that privacy advocates have. Still necessary to run privacy software.

Registry Editor

registry editor address bar

Microsoft added a location bar to the Registry Editor in the Creators Update. This allows you to paste addresses to jump quickly to the location.

Verdict: very useful if you use the built-in Registry Editor regularly.

Windows Ink

windows ink suggestions

Microsoft continues its work on Windows Ink in the Creators Update. The Windows Ink Workspace features a link to the settings now. When you follow it, you will notice that they have improved and include new options such as hiding the cursor when you use a digital pen.

Some apps, the photos app for instance, supports Windows Ink in the Creators Update now, so that you can use a pen for annotations.

Verdict: useful additions if you use a digital pen on a Windows 10 device.

Windows Update

pause windows updates

Microsoft improved Windows Update in several ways. Probably the biggest change is an option to pause updates.

This allows you to block updates for a set time period -- the latest Windows Insider release states for a period of up to seven days.

You may also see other pause options there: 35 days for regular updates, and up to 365 days for feature updates.

Another change comes to the Active Hours feature introduced in the Anniversary Update. Microsoft extended the maximum period of Active Hours from 12 to 18 hours in the Creators Update.

Behind the scenes, improvements to how updates are delivered shrink update sizes, and may also reduce the processing power needed to update.

Some features are not available for Windows 10 Home devices.

Verdict: useful, but not as good as simple options to turn off updates, or defer them indefinitely.

Other changes

Here is the list of (some of the) other changes of the Windows 10 Creators Update:

  • App throttling to improve battery life.
  • Braille support.
  • Command Prompt removed from Windows-X menu. Use PowerShell.
  • Connect to VPNs directly from the network menu.
  • Create Screenshots with the Windows-Shift-S hotkey.
  • File Explorer notifications (used for ads, better disable the feature).
  • Hyper-V improvements: quick virtual machine creation, display scaling, resizable machine connection windows.
  • Microsoft promises that built-in applications that you uninstall won't get installed again.
  • New Share menu that opens in the center and no longer on the side.
  • NumLock field is no longer a issue if you sign-in with a PIN.
  • On-screen touchpad added.
  • Remove more system apps that you could not uninstall previously.
  • Settings app changes. Apps are moved to their own group, information about related settings are now shown, and more.
  • Show or hide the All Apps listing in the Start menu.
  • Storage Sense: free up disk space automatically. You can enable the feature under Settings > System > Storage > Storage Sense.
  • Symbolic links can be created without elevation.
  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection enhancements.
  • Windows Defender features a new interface.
  • Windows Hello setup improvements.

Windows 10 Creators Update: removed features

The following features are no longer available on devices running the Windows 10 Creators Update:

  1. AllowUserDecryption policy of Windows Information Protection.
  2. Apndatabase.xml.
  3. Apps Corner (Windows Phone).
  4. Flash autorun in Microsoft Edge.
  5. IPsec Task Offload.
  6. Microsoft Paint for languages not on the full localization list.
  7. NPN support in TLS.
  8. Reading List.
  9. TCP Chimney.
  10. The Interactive Service Detection Service.
  11. Tile Data Layer.
  12. TLS DHE_DSS
  13. WSUS for Windows Mobile.

Now You: are you excited about the Windows 10 Creators Update?

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Deal of the Week: Ashampoo Software Bundle Pay What You Want http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/deal-of-the-week-ashampoo-software-bundle-pay-what-you-want/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/deal-of-the-week-ashampoo-software-bundle-pay-what-you-want/#respond Tue, 28 Mar 2017 09:46:49 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131700 I have something special for you today: A Pay What You Want Deal for eight Ashampoo programs on Ghacks Deals. You can grab one of the programs if you pay at least $1, and all eight if you beat the average price (currently $18.13 at the time of writing). Here is what is included (first […]

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ashampoo

I have something special for you today: A Pay What You Want Deal for eight Ashampoo programs on Ghacks Deals.

You can grab one of the programs if you pay at least $1, and all eight if you beat the average price (currently $18.13 at the time of writing).

Here is what is included (first is the pay at least $1):

  • Uninstaller 6 -- a program uninstaller, we reviewed version 5 here.
  • Burning Studio 18 -- a powerful burning software.
  • Backup Pro 10 -- backup software for Windows.
  • Music Studio 6 -- music editor with cut, burn, rip, convert, mix, organize and more.
  • Photo Commander 15 -- a photo organizer.
  • Snap 9 -- screen capture software.
  • WinOptimizer 14 -- Windows optimization program.
  • Privacy Protector -- program to configure privacy settings on Windows.

Click here to open the Ashampoo software bundle on Ghacks Deals

Most programs are offered in the latest version, while some as the previous version (Backup Pro 10 and Snap 9).

I suggest you check out the Ashampoo website for details on those programs if you are interested in them.

This is a great opportunity to grab eight programs for Microsoft Windows for a huge discount. Most programs cost more than the average right now.

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Ashampoo Snap 10 screen capture review http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/ashampoo-snap-10-screen-capture-review/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/ashampoo-snap-10-screen-capture-review/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2017 08:10:03 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131691 Ashampoo Snap 10 is a screen capture program for Windows that enables you to capture screenshots and video on Windows devices. I reviewed Ashampoo Snap 7 back in 2013; a lot has changed since then, and yesterday's release of Ashampoo Snap 10 was a good enough reason to revisit the program and write another view. […]

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Ashampoo Snap 10 is a screen capture program for Windows that enables you to capture screenshots and video on Windows devices.

I reviewed Ashampoo Snap 7 back in 2013; a lot has changed since then, and yesterday's release of Ashampoo Snap 10 was a good enough reason to revisit the program and write another view.

Ashampoo Snap 10 is a commercial program. Customers who run a previous version can upgrade for a discounted price, the retail price is $49.99. You may download a trial version of the program from the Ashampoo website to test the software for ten days before making a buying decision.

Ashampoo Snap 10 review

ashampoo snap 10

Installation of the program is straightforward. You may select the installation directory, and configure the program to start with Windows as well.

The program is compatible with any device running Windows 7 or a newer version of Microsoft's Windows operating system.

You interact with the program in several ways. There is the capture bar, displayed at the top right of the screen by default, keyboard shortcuts, and the system tray icon and menu that you may use for that.

You can disable the capture bar if you don't need it. It is displayed as a small line at the top which expands when you hover the mouse over it.

The capture options -- video and various screenshot options -- are listed as icons there then:

  • Capture video.
  • Capture scrolling window (freestyle, Firefox).
  • Capture scrolling window (Chrome, Edge).
  • Capture single window.
  • Capture free rectangle region.
  • Capture freestyle region.
  • Capture fixed region.
  • Capture menu.
  • Capture multiple windows/objects.
  • Timed capture.
  • Capture text (OCR).

The next step depends on what you select. If you select to capture a scrolling window for instance, you select that window with a click in the next step. Freestyle captures on the other hand let you draw rectangles or entirely custom shapes on the screen to highlight the areas that you want captured.

ashampoo snap 10 video capture

You are taken to a configuration window when you select video capture. Ashampoo Snap supports several recording options when it comes to video capture:

  • Single window.
  • Desktop (all monitors).
  • Primary monitor.
  • Rectangular region.
  • Fixed region.
  • Webcam.

You may select available audio and video presets, or switch to custom configuration to select the desired codec, frames per second, and quality parameters manually instead.

Videos can be encoded on the fly during the capture process, or saved to disk first and encoded after the capture ends. The latter option is useful to improve performance of the process.

Screen captures are opened in a full screen editor by default. You may change that behavior in the preferences, for instance to save captures automatically to disk instead.

The editor looks quite messy on first launch, as icons are displayed on the left, top and right of the interface. These icons have no titles, and it may take a while to understand what they do.

The left and top icon bars are designed for image manipulation, the right bar for processing the image afterwards.

All options that you could possibly want are available. You may add arrows or text to the screenshot, rotate or zoom it, blur or erase parts of it, or highlight parts.

The processing options are equally extensive. You may save the capture to the local system, cloud, or Facebook or Twitter, share it, print it, turn it into a PDF document, or send it to another application among other options.

One feature that I'd like to see here is an option to customize what is displayed on the screen. If I don't use a particular feature, I'd like an option to hide it from the editor to improve the accessibility of the features that I do use.

Ashampoo 10 Settings

ashampoo snap 10 settings

It is advised to go through the settings on first start to customize the program for your needs. Options that you find there include configuring the output format, name and directory, default action when a screenshot is captured, hotkeys, and capture specific preferences such as browser monitoring, and website URL recording.

The last option is a new feature of Ashampoo Snap 10. The program may add the URL of the website that you captured using it to the screen capture. This can be interested for reference purposes, but is easily disabled in the settings if you don't require that option.

Ashampoo Snap 10: what is new

Here is a list of what is new in Ashampoo Snap 10 compared to Snap 9:

  • Create screenshots of 3D fullscreen games.
  • Capture screenshots and videos in up to 4K resolution.
  • Videos: cut and join videos, save videos as episodes, turn videos into animated gifs, and improved video watermarks.
  • Improved text recognition support.
  • Add origin (URL) to images, to metadata, or in emailed messages (Outlook only).
  • Speed improvements.
  • Edit window is moveable now, and can be minimized.
  • Full DPI awareness, support for different DPI settings across monitors.
  • New formatting options for numbered buttons.
  • Highlight effect with image analysis.

Closing Words

Ashampoo Snap 10 is a powerful screen capture program for Windows. It supports all the features that you expect from a commercial program, and then some. One interesting feature is for instance the ability to capture the desktop of multi-monitor systems simultaneously, or the ability to add URLs to the capture in various ways.

An option to turn off the tutorial system would be nice as Snap 10 displays tutorial screens when you use a feature for the first time. These may be useful to inexperienced users, but if you have used a capture software before, you may not need them at all.

Is it worth the price? That depends entirely on your requirements. Free programs like Greenshot offer great functionality as well, but they are limited when it comes to some features such as recording video, editing images, or the capture methods that they support.

Now You: Which screen capture software do you use?

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Windows 10 has more than 10 million beta testers now http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/windows-10-has-more-than-10-million-beta-testers-now/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/28/windows-10-has-more-than-10-million-beta-testers-now/#comments Tue, 28 Mar 2017 06:03:29 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131687 Microsoft's Windows Insiders program has crossed the 10 million members mark recently according to a blog post by Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi. Introduced back in October 2014 when the first preview build of Windows 10 was released to the public, membership grew quickly to over a million over the course of a couple of weeks. […]

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Microsoft's Windows Insiders program has crossed the 10 million members mark recently according to a blog post by Microsoft executive Yusuf Mehdi.

Introduced back in October 2014 when the first preview build of Windows 10 was released to the public, membership grew quickly to over a million over the course of a couple of weeks.

We have had one of these unbelievable experiences with our Windows 10 Insider program. We count over 10M Windows Insiders today, many of them fans, who test and use the latest build of Windows 10 on a daily basis. Their feedback comes fast and furious, they have a relentless bar of what they expect, but it so inspires our team and drives our very focus on a daily basis.

The Windows Insider program started out as a way for Windows enthusiasts (and professionals), to run development versions of the Windows 10 operating system.

For members, it meant that they could explore new versions of the operating system before release, for instance to check out new features and capabilities, or make sure that compatibility was not an issue.

For Microsoft, it means a treasure trove of telemetry data. The company runs its own tests on Windows 10 builds, but even a fairly large organization like Microsoft cannot test all device configurations that float around these days.

Pushing builds out to -- now -- over 10 million members gives Microsoft better data. That's probably the main reason why the company introduced the Windows Insider program.

windows feedback hub

Users may report issues to Microsoft, and give feedback on certain things. The Feedback Hub, a Windows 10 application that is delivered with Insider Builds, is the main way to do so. Microsoft monitors user input, but there is no guarantee that the company will act on it.

We love to see the Insider feedback pouring in. Seeing all your input creates a great energy across the Windows team. We sort through it, figure out what is already known and what is new, and then reshape our product backlogs based on what we learn. In one of our team rooms, we put up a large screen that cycles through incoming feedback. It shows the incoming feedback rate, and highlights trending feedback. Our team gathers around it during our daily meeting. We talk about features we’re building in the Windows Feedback app, and what we’re doing to help all of the feature teams in OSG identify top feedback requests in their areas.

Things still go wrong, even with 10 million beta testers as the past couple of months have shown.

The program has evolved ever since it was introduced. Microsoft started to develop it, and evolved it  into a community of like minded individuals.

The company revealed the Windows Insider Program for IT Professionals recently which will be launched soon. A registration form is already available on the linked website above. Microsoft plans to offer new software tools, and a community "to serve IT professionals around the world" with the new program.

The Insider Program is a success for Microsoft, there is no doubt about that. The company gains valuable telemetry data and user feedback thanks to the -- now -- more than 10 million beta testers in the Fast, Slow and Preview release channels of the program.

Now You: What's your take on the Windows Insider program?

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Windows 10 Start Menu StartIsBack++ 2.0 released http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/windows-10-start-menu-startisback-2-0-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/windows-10-start-menu-startisback-2-0-released/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 18:22:30 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131683 StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 is the latest version of the start menu replacement program for Windows 10 that works similarly as Classic Shell and Start10. We reviewed the version of StartIsBack+ for Windows 8.1 back when it was released. If you have used that version before, you have a good understanding already what StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 for Windows […]

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StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 is the latest version of the start menu replacement program for Windows 10 that works similarly as Classic Shell and Start10.

We reviewed the version of StartIsBack+ for Windows 8.1 back when it was released. If you have used that version before, you have a good understanding already what StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 for Windows 10 brings to the table.

The last version of the program dates back to October 2016, and it is version 1.3.4. I'm not sure what happened to version 2.0 though of the application.

StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 for Windows 10 is a commercial program. You can test it for 30 days, but if you want to continue using it, you will have to buy a license for the fair price of $2.99. This is even cheaper than the $4.99 that Stardock charges for its excellent Start10 program, especially since this is for a lifetime license.

StartIsBack++ 2.0

startisback 2.0.1

StartIsBack++ 2.0.1  exchanges the start menu that Windows 10 systems ship with a custom one, for instance one that resembles the Windows 7 start menu.

The software ships with three different start menu styles, and an option to select a custom start menu button as well from a list of available options.

If you have used the program before you will notice that new options have been added to the process.

startisback themes

This includes options to skin the taskbar completely. StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 ships with Windows 7 and Windows 8 taskbar styles included that you can enable with a click in the appearance menu.

This enables you to display the Windows 7 start menu with the Windows 10 taskbar, or the default Windows 10 start menu with the Windows 8 taskbar, and the Windows 7 start button.

You may customize the appearance furthermore in the settings. Options include selecting a custom start menu and taskbar color, or enabling a Windows XP-style flyout menu.

As far as other improvements are concerned: you can configure the program to expand the Settings application directly in the start menu. This displays all pages of the Settings application right there for selection.

This option is not enabled by default, and needs to be enabled in the options under "Start menu". Locate the Settings app under right side items on the page, and switch its state to menu there.

You find  the same option for the classic Control Panel there, and may enable the display of items that are not displayed by default there as well.

StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 ships with an improved Settings application search as well. Just type some characters and all Settings pages that match what you have typed are returned by the program for quick opening.

Another new feature is support for dragging and dropping files on Windows App icons in the start menu to open them.

Users who work on devices connected to high DPI screens may notice improved support for high DPI as well.

It is a good idea to go through the settings after installation to customize the program's functionality. You find plenty of options there to, for instance to hide all modern apps, or add custom folders to the start menu for quick access.

Closing Words

StartIsBack++ 2.0.1 replaces the original Windows 10 start menu with a custom version. You may use it to display a classic start menu on Windows 10 machines, and adjust plenty of other start menu or taskbar related options as well.

Now You: Do you use a start menu replacement on your computer?

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TreeSize Free 4.0 is out http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/treesize-free-4-0-is-out/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/treesize-free-4-0-is-out/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 13:20:16 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131677 TreeSize Free 4.0 is the latest free for personal use version of the popular disk space distribution analysis software for Microsoft Windows devices. The program tries to answer one simple question: where did all the free disk space go? We reviewed TreeSize Free back in 2010 for the first time, and found it to be […]

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TreeSize Free 4.0 is the latest free for personal use version of the popular disk space distribution analysis software for Microsoft Windows devices.

The program tries to answer one simple question: where did all the free disk space go? We reviewed TreeSize Free back in 2010 for the first time, and found it to be a powerful program to analyze storage devices in regards to used disk space.

The free version of TreeSize does not follow the same update schedule as the commercial personal and professional versions. It is the first release in over a year.

Note: One of the changes is that support for Microsoft's Windows XP system has been dropped. Windows XP users cannot use the new version because of that, and need to use the previous version, version 3.4.5 instead.

TreeSize Free 4.0

treesize free 4.0

The program interface has changed a bit. The program uses a ribbon interface now known from Microsoft Office, File Explorer on Windows 10, and some other applications.

There is an option to switch to a touch optimized interface under Options > User Interface, but no option to restore the classic interface of the program.

The touch version uses a UWP-style layout. It opens in full screen by default, and displays large buttons and text for easier handling on touch-enabled devices. The version replaces TreeSize Touch which is available on the Windows Store.

The general layout of the data has not changed however. TreeSize Free scans and displays the list of folders and files on the main hard drive on start. The data is sorted from largest to smallest, so that it is rather easy to identify the largest offenders in regards to occupied disk space on the drive.

You simply follow the trail of folders until you reach the file listing. You may speed things up by using the expand option, as it enables you to expand all folders, or only folders up to a certain level from the root folder.

TreeSize Free can scan drives, but accepts any folder as the root location for scans as well.

treemap view

One option that is new in TreeSize Free 4.0 is support for the treemap chart. You enable it by selecting View > Show Treemap.

It adds a new pane to the program interface that visualizes the data distribution on a hierarchical map. Note that you need a bit of space to make good use of the view mode. You may right-click on the selection there to change what is displayed, and to run Explorer commands on the selection.

It is for instance possible to enable file listings as well in the view mode. These options are also available in the chart options tab of the ribbon menu. A double-click on any part of the map loads the files it contains on the left sidebar. The treemap changes automatically when you navigate folders on the left.

What else is new? TreeSize Free support for high DPI displays has improved, and users should notice a better scan performance when they run the program on mobile devices.

Closing Words

TreeSize Free 4.0 is an excellent program that you may use to analyze the disk space distribution of a drive, or folder on a computer running Windows.

Some users may not like the new ribbon interface, but it does not really get into the way this much.

I still prefer WizTree myself as it is faster and better suited for my needs. Still, TreeSize Free is a good alternative that you may want to give a try.

Now You: Do you use a program to analyze disk space?

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Bandizip 6.0 is out with new interface http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/bandizip-6-0-is-out-with-new-interface/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/bandizip-6-0-is-out-with-new-interface/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 07:37:20 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131650 Bandizip 6.0, a new version of the archive software for Windows, has been released featuring a new user interface, and other changes. I switched to Bandizip in 2014 as it supported features that 7-Zip, the program that I used up to that point, failed to introduce much needed features quickly enough. The company responsible for […]

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Bandizip 6.0, a new version of the archive software for Windows, has been released featuring a new user interface, and other changes.

I switched to Bandizip in 2014 as it supported features that 7-Zip, the program that I used up to that point, failed to introduce much needed features quickly enough.

The company responsible for Bandizip released beta versions of the program in 2016, and you may want to check out the first look article that I wrote back then as things have not changed all that much since then.

Bandizip 6.0

bandizip 6.0

Bandizip 6.0 is offered as a portable version for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, and as an installer. The latest version is not compatible with Windows XP. Only option that you have is to keep on using Bandizip 5.x on devices running the operating system.

Installation is straightforward. Please note that the option to send usage statistics and crash reports is enabled when you install the program. You can disable it during setup on the same page that you can change the installation path on.

The installer changed, and it appears that it requires an Internet connection during installation. You can still download and run the portable version instead which does not have the requirement.

The program opens with a new start screen if you start it without loading archives at the same time. You can disable this new screen with a click on View > Start Screen.

The program interface has changed, but not dramatically. You get a new color scheme and icons, but the general layout and look and feel remained the same.

bandizip 6.0 archive

Note that you may change the color scheme used by the program under Settings > Color.

The menu icons in the toolbar offer the same features, and the archive listing uses the traditional two-pane interface. You may also change the toolbar's look and feel to the classic design by selecting View > Toolbar Old from the menu bar at the top. The result looks like this when you do:

bandizip 6.0 classic

Another option that you have is to reduce the size of the toolbar menu to small. This is only possible for the new design though. You find the option under View > Toolbars > Small.

The left side of the interface lists the folders, if available, and the right the actual file content. You may run operations using the toolbar menu, the right-click context menu, or keyboard shortcuts.

As far as new features are concerned, there are a handful. Bandizip 6.0 supports the new archive formats ZPAC and LZIP, and you may notice that extraction and compression tasks perform faster in the new version. The beta version history listed support for MS Compound and ARC formats as well. Another new feature that is not mentioned in the final release history is support for creating GX/XZ archives.

A quick test with fairly large archives revealed that this is indeed the case, at least when it comes to extracting archives on the system.

The release history page lists a new console program, and a new command line command as well, but fails to go into details. The new console program is bc.exe which you find in the program folder. You may use it to run commands directly without opening the program UI. The application replaces the 7z.exe program that Bandizip used in previous versions.

Changes not mentioned on the release history page include a new listing of recently opened files under File > Recent Files, and an option to change the file listing from the details view to icons or list view instead.

These replicate the two Windows Explorer view styles. The icon view mode displays files as icons with the name listed underneath the icon, the list view file names and icons as a list instead. Both modes don't display other information such as the file size.

Closing Words

Bandizip 6.0 ships with additional features, and better performance when it comes to extracting archives and creating new archives. Some users may not like the new interface, but you can adjust it somewhat using the View menu, for instance by enabling the classic look of the toolbar there.

Now You: What's your take on the new Bandizip 6.0?

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Disable Security Messages on Windows 10 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/disable-security-messages-on-windows-10/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/27/disable-security-messages-on-windows-10/#comments Mon, 27 Mar 2017 05:42:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131642 The following guide explains how to disable security messages on Windows 10 to prevent popup notifications on the desktop. Windows 10 monitors security and maintenance related features and settings, antivirus protection and Windows Update for instance, and notifies you if something is not working correctly. If antivirus protection is turned off for instance, you get […]

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The following guide explains how to disable security messages on Windows 10 to prevent popup notifications on the desktop.

Windows 10 monitors security and maintenance related features and settings, antivirus protection and Windows Update for instance, and notifies you if something is not working correctly.

If antivirus protection is turned off for instance, you get a notification to check the virus protection.While that is certainly useful if you are not aware of it, it can become annoying quickly if you know that already, or if Windows failed to read the situation correctly.

This feature is not new, but it has become more difficult to control in Windows 10.

I never cared for the messages that Windows' Security and Maintenance functionality would throw on the desktop; ever since I upgraded to Malwarebytes 3, I noticed an increase in messages stating to check virus protection. This is caused by Malwarebytes 3 failing to enable some of its protection modules at times.

The main issue with these messages is that they take focus. If I type in a browser, and one of those messages pops up, the last ten or so characters that I typed would end up in nirvana due to the lost focus of the browser window. Another issue is that they play a sound on top of that.

Disable Security Messages on Windows 10

check virus protection

First, the things that don't work: You find a lot of tutorials online to turn off the Action Center. But turning off the Action Center won't neccessarily turn off the notifications that Windows throws when it detects an issue on the system.

security messages windows 10

Additionally, turning messages off under Security and Maintenance > Change Security and Maintenance Settings, does not work either. You may disable virus protection security messages there, but a quick test revealed that Windows would still throw "check virus protection" messages afterwards.

Hiding the Action Center icon in the Settings application won't stop Windows from displaying security and maintenance messages either.

Disabling security messages

Two methods exist to disable security messages on Windows 10.  One is a policy, the other the corresponding Registry key.

Method 1: Group Policy

remove notifications and action center

The Group Policy Editor is only available in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions. It is not available in Home editions. If you run a Home edition, skip this option and jump directly to method 2 below.

If you don't know which version of Windows you are running, use the keyboard shortcut Windows-Pause to find out. Windows displays the version, e.g. Windows 10 Pro, at the top of the window that opens.

To add the policy to a Windows machine, do the following:

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type gpedit.msc, and hit the Enter-key. This starts the Group Policy Editor on the system.
  2. Use the sidebar to go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  3. Locate Remove Notifications and Action Center there. If the list is not sorted alphabetically, click on the "setting" column title to do so. This makes it easier to find the policy.
  4. Double-click on the policy.
  5. Set it to enabled.
  6. Restart the PC

The policy has the following description:

This policy setting removes Notifications and Action Center from the notification area on the taskbar.

The notification area is located at the far right end of the taskbar and includes icons for current notifications and the system clock.

If this setting is enabled, Notifications and Action Center is not displayed in the notification area. The user will be able to read notifications when they appear, but they won’t be able to review any notifications they miss.

If you disable or do not configure this policy setting, Notification and Security and Maintenance will be displayed on the taskbar.

A reboot is required for this policy setting to take effect.

Method 2: Windows Registry

disable notification center

You can make the same change directly using the Windows Registry Editor.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit.exe, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard afterwards.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt that appears.
  3. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer using the left sidebar menu. If Explorer does not exist, right-click on Windows and select New > Key, and name it Explorer.
  4. Right-click on Explorer, and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it DisableNotificationCenter.
  6. Double-click the new entry afterwards, and set its value to 1.
  7. Restart the PC.

I have created a Registry file that you can run on your computer to make the change directly, and without having to edit the Registry manually.  Click on the following link to download the archive to your computer: security-notifications-windows10-2.zip

The file disable-security-notifications.reg disables security notifications on your PC when executed, while enable-security-notifications.reg enables the messages again.

Now You:  Do you find security notifications useful on Windows?

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Agnitio: control Windows with your voice http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/26/agnitio-control-windows-with-your-voice/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/26/agnitio-control-windows-with-your-voice/#comments Sun, 26 Mar 2017 14:01:26 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131612 Agnitio is a free software program for Microsoft Windows computer systems that adds voice commands to the operating system. If you compare the voice controlled computers of science fiction franchises such as Star Wars or Star Trek with what is possible today, you will notice that voice control has a long way to go to […]

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Agnitio is a free software program for Microsoft Windows computer systems that adds voice commands to the operating system.

If you compare the voice controlled computers of science fiction franchises such as Star Wars or Star Trek with what is possible today, you will notice that voice control has a long way to go to reach those levels of interaction.

Microsoft did launch the voice controlled assistant Cortana with Windows 10, but it is fairly limited when it comes to what you can use Cortana for. The same is true for other voice controlled devices such as Amazon's Alexa, Google's personal assistant, or Apple's Siri.

Agnitio

agnitio voice commands

Agnitio is a third-party program for Windows that accepts voice commands. The program's focus is the launching of programs, and the opening of system tools.

Good news is that it is not nearly as data hungry as the personal assistants mentioned above as it won't communicate with Internet servers or transfer your command history to a remote server somewhere on the Internet.

Agnitio lists all available commands in five groups in its interface on start.

  • Web Browsers -- Launch Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Opera.
  • System -- Open Notepad, Command Prompt, Services, Disk Cleanup, Event Viewer, System Information, Firewall, or shut down, restart, or log off.
  • Websites -- Further divided into email providers -- Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, Mail -- and video streaming services -- YouTube, Vimeo and Twitch.
  • Search Engines -- Open Google, DuckDuckGo, Yahoo Search or Bing.
  • Extra -- Run a Google Search, get current weather information, show, or hide.

You need a microphone to make use of the voice commands that Agnitio enables on the system when it runs. To use it, simply say what you want to do, e.g. open Twitch to have the command executed by Agnitio.

One downside to using Agnitio is that you cannot add custom commands to the program. This means that you cannot change the search engines or supported browsers for instance, or add custom commands to the application at this point in time.

Considering that it is still in beta state, future versions may support that functionality. For now, all you get is what the program ships with.

The program runs in training mode after installation. You can disable training mode in the settings. There you find other options, for instance to switch from a female voice to a male voice, or from a dark  to a light theme.

agnitio options

You may also enable the "run at system startup" option. This is useful if you use the program regularly, and don't want to start it manually each time you plan on using it.

The program is created by the developer of Win10Privacy, a popular privacy program for Windows 10. Please note that it requires the Microsoft .NET Framework to run.

The program uses about 15 Megabytes of memory when it runs in the background.

Closing Words

Agnitio is a beta program, and it may improve over time. The functionality that it provides right now may work for some users, but it is too limiting for my taste. This is not just a problem of Agnitio, but most voice-based solutions out there right now.

Now You: voice controlled computing yay or nay?

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chrlauncher: custom Chromium downloader, updater and launcher http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/26/chrlauncher-custom-chromium-downloader-updater-and-launcher/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/26/chrlauncher-custom-chromium-downloader-updater-and-launcher/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 07:33:10 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131600 Chrlauncher is a free portable program for Microsoft Windows that lets you download, update, and launch various Chromium versions. Chromium is the open source part of Google Chrome, and other browsers such as Vivaldi or Opera. Users who want to try out Chromium run into several issues right from the start. First, when it comes […]

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Chrlauncher is a free portable program for Microsoft Windows that lets you download, update, and launch various Chromium versions.

Chromium is the open source part of Google Chrome, and other browsers such as Vivaldi or Opera.

Users who want to try out Chromium run into several issues right from the start. First, when it comes to downloading the latest version of the web browser for their operating system.

One of the easier ways is to use this web page to download the latest Chromium binaries, or this site if you want to run a 32-bit version of Chromium.

You will notice however that you cannot update Chromium using the browser, as it does not ship with automatic update functionality. While you can download the latest builds manually, it would require you to do so often as new builds come out very frequently.

chrlauncher

chrlauncher chromium

Chrlauncher provides you with the means to download, update, and launch Chromium on Windows devices.

While there are plenty of options to update Chromium, check out our overview of programs to update Chromium on Windows, barely any offers customization options.

This makes chrlauncher different from the rest, as it ships with an ini file that you can make adjustments to.

One of the interesting options that chrlauncher offers is the selection of different Chromium builds. The latest version supports six of them, including the official build. Here is an overview of the builds supported by the application:

  1. Official Chromium development builds.
  2. Unofficial Chromium development builds with codecs support (default).
  3. Unofficial stable Chromium builds with codecs.
  4. Unofficial development builds of Chromium with codecs and without Google services.
  5. Unofficial stable builds of Chromium with codecs and without Google services.
  6. Unofficial Chromium builds without Google integration and enhanced privacy (ungoogled Chromium)

You find other options in the ini file. Among them are the following interesting options:

  • Add command line parameters to Chromium.
  • Set the Chromium directory.
  • Switch the architecture from auto-detect to 32-bit or 64-bit.
  • Disable auto-download. If you disable the auto downloading of updates, a system tray tooltip is displayed whenever updates are found.
  • Change the update check interval.

You simply run the program to start using it. If Chromium is not found in the target folder, it is downloaded by chrlauncher. This delays the start of the browser obviously, but is a one-time operation only.

You may use the program to launch Chromium from that moment on, or launch the web browser directly from its directory on the computer instead. Both options work just fine.

The program ships with a batch file that you may run to make the downloaded Chromium version the default browser on the system. You need to set it as the default programs in the Control Panel / Settings application as well however.

The browser uses a portable version of Adobe Flash by default. You can block this in the ini file so that Flash is not used.

Additional information on the initial configuration and options is available on the project's Github page.

Closing Words

Chrlauncher is a handy program to download Chromium, and keep the browser up to date at the same time.

Now You: Do you use Chromium, Chrome, or another Chromium-based browser?

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Optimize your images with Google’s Guetzli compression algorithm http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/optimize-images-google-guetzli/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/optimize-images-google-guetzli/#comments Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:57:12 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131596 The following guide walks you through the steps of optimizing jpeg images using Google's new Guetzli compression algorithm. Google unveiled Guetzli some time ago, a JPEG encoder that promises up to 35% smaller file sizes than achievable with current methods. A 35% reduction would result in Ghacks saving hundreds of Megabytes of storage space, and […]

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The following guide walks you through the steps of optimizing jpeg images using Google's new Guetzli compression algorithm.

Google unveiled Guetzli some time ago, a JPEG encoder that promises up to 35% smaller file sizes than achievable with current methods.

A 35% reduction would result in Ghacks saving hundreds of Megabytes of storage space, and a lot of bandwidth thanks to optimization. Google promises that Guetzli optimized images don't sacrifice quality for size.

One example: you have 1000 jpg images on your website. Each image has a size of 100 Kiloybte. If Guetzli manages to decrease the file size by 25%, you'd reduce the size of the images by 25,000 Kilobyte, or 25 Megabytes.

If these images get downloaded 10,000 times per month, you'd save 250,000 Kilobyte, or 250 Megabyte of traffic. Also, downloads would be faster on the user side of things.

Optimize your images with Google's Guetzli compression algorithm

running guetzli file optimizer

While you can head over to GitHub to grab your own personal version of the algorithm, and build it from source on Windows, POSIX or Mac OS X, it is probably not something that most webmasters are familiar enough with.

FileOptimizer is one of the programs that ships with Guetzli support already. The program is a universal file optimizer that you can download from the software's SourceForge page.

The program is simple. Drag and drop images, or other files, to the interface, select Optimize > Optimize All Files from the menu, and wait until the process completes.

You can drop folders on the interface, to have all files that FileOptimizer supports added to the queue automatically.

Guetzli is not one of the decoders that is used by default as it is not lossless. To enable Guetzli support in FileOptimizer, do the following:

  1. Open the fileoptimizer.ini file. You find it in the main user folder, e.g. C:\users\martin\fileoptimizer.ini
  2. Locate the parameter JPEGAllowLossy, and set it to true. This is done by replacing false in the line with true, so that the beginning of the line reads JPEGAllowLossy=true
  3. Restart FileOptimizer if it is running already.

guetzli optimize images

Once you have made the change, Guetzli is used as one of the algorithms to reduce the file size of jpg images loaded into the program interface.

Initial runs on some old Ghacks folders resulted in a reduction of about 15-20% on average. This is not bad, especially since I could not detect any quality deterioration on the optimized images.

One downside to this is that it takes some time to run Guetzli on images. How long depends on the size of the image, but it gets slow when the image hits 100 Kilobyte, and really slow (a minute or more) if it is crosses the 1 Megabyte limit. Still, it is probably worth it for webmasters. Best probably if you have a spare PC, or can keep your PC on over night to run the compression jobs then.

Now You: Do you optimize your images?

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Windows Tip: Speed up Disk Cleanup System Files loading http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/windows-tip-speed-up-disk-cleanup-system-files-loading/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/windows-tip-speed-up-disk-cleanup-system-files-loading/#comments Sat, 25 Mar 2017 07:01:59 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131579 The following tip provides you with information on how to speed up the loading of Disk Cleanup's "clean system files" option on Windows. Disk Cleanup is a built-in tool on Windows devices that users may utilize to remove temporary data from the operating system. It is not as complete as dedicated third-party cleaning programs such […]

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The following tip provides you with information on how to speed up the loading of Disk Cleanup's "clean system files" option on Windows.

Disk Cleanup is a built-in tool on Windows devices that users may utilize to remove temporary data from the operating system.

It is not as complete as dedicated third-party cleaning programs such as CCleaner or Privazer, but it may still remove Gigabytes of disk content that is no longer needed from the system.

Only part of what can be cleaned is listed when you run Disk Cleanup on a Windows machine. You can run the program by tapping on the Windows-key, typing Disk Cleanup, and selecting the option.

thumbnails disk cleanup

There you find the items listed for cleanup, and a button to clean up system files as well. If you click on that button, the whole process starts over to include system file locations as well.

Microsoft improved the process in the Windows 10 Creators Update. The option to select a drive was removed from the process, and the loading of the interface was improved as well.

We talked about one option to load the system files interface right away. It required running a command, and while you could create a shortcut for it to improve usability, it was not really liked by many users.

There is a different way however to load the system files version of Disk Cleanup right away.

All you need to do is hold down the Ctrl-key and the Shift-key before you select the option. So, tap on the Windows-key, type Disk Cleanup, hold down the Shift-key and Ctrl-key, and select the Disk Cleanup result.

disk cleanup system files

Windows will take you to the full Disk Cleanup interface right away that includes system files. This works both when you run Disk Cleanup from the start menu, and when you run it from a drive's properties page.

You can right-click on any drive and select properties to open the drive's properties. There you find listed an option to run disk cleanup.

If you just click on the button, the regular Disk Cleanup interface is loaded. If you want to clean up system files as well, you'd have to click on the button to do so.

The tip mentioned above bypasses this and loads the interface right away.

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A Look at Desktop Environments: KDE 5 Plasma http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/a-look-at-desktop-environments-kde-5-plasma/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/25/a-look-at-desktop-environments-kde-5-plasma/#comments Sat, 25 Mar 2017 06:22:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131570 This time around we will be looking at KDE: powerful, graphically beautiful, and filled with an array of useful software; but the most resource intensive of the major desktop environments. KDE has always been a weird thing for me, I quite enjoy its almost limitless amount of customizability, the great tools that it comes with, […]

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This time around we will be looking at KDE: powerful, graphically beautiful, and filled with an array of useful software; but the most resource intensive of the major desktop environments.

KDE has always been a weird thing for me, I quite enjoy its almost limitless amount of customizability, the great tools that it comes with, and yet I never seem to stick with it and I have no idea why; I actually couldn’t pinpoint the reason even if I tried, so you can take that as you wish.

Check out the first part of the desktop environments overview covering Mate here.

A Look at Desktop Environments: KDE 5 Plasma

The machine I am using has the following specs:

  • Intel i5-4210U
  • 8GB DDR3
  • SSD
  • Fresh install of Manjaro KDE with no extra software installed

For this I decided to wipe my Manjaro XFCE/MATE install and install a fresh copy of Manjaro KDE for two reasons.

Firstly, because I read that installing KDE over XFCE with Manjaro can be a headache and I simply didn’t want to deal with that.

Secondly, I initially was going to install OpenSUSE as it’s my favourite KDE powered distro, but I read that Manjaro KDE was very well put together, I hadn’t tried it yet, and I love Manjaro; so I thought it would be a good experience. However, this overview will not be focusing on Manjaro specific software.

Customization and Default Appearance

Manjaro KDE Default

KDE is gorgeous, this is a well known fact; it’s got plenty of bells and whistles, effects, transitions, animations and other various forms of eye candy.

In Manjaro running KDE Plasma, it’s a mostly dark theme with green accents, flat icons, and an abstract background by default; overall, a great start.

Right clicking the desktop and selecting “Configure Desktop” took me to where I could change my wallpaper and a few other options, so I promptly swapped over to one of the other defaults, a nice forest photo.

KDE Cascade Kicker

The kicker menu in the bottom left corner is nice, great animations, nice organization too; however I find it clunky and slow, I absolutely love it’s organization but I find the delay in animations slows down my productivity.

Thankfully, KDE has the options built right in to change your menu style to either a fullscreen system that reminds me of Gnome or UNITY as well as the Launchpad from Mac OS X, or a more traditional cascading menu like the older windows systems.

I prefer the cascading menu, as it’s still got superb organization including the option to add favourite applications to a little side bar built into the menu for quick and easy launching of frequently used programs.

The animations have a lot more zip to them as well, so no delay when you want to find a program, and overall I find it still looks attractive to the eye as well. To make this change, you simply right click the kicker, and select “Alternatives.”

Changing themes was a breeze in KDE as well, and has some rather nice options included by default. Clicking the kicker menu > Settings > System Settings, will take you to a screen where you have all the various settings similar to the Windows Control Panel; simply click “Workspace Theme” and the theme manager will open.

I personally selected “Maia Dark” as my theme, and I must say it’s rather nice. More themes can be downloaded from https://store.kde.org/

Default Software

Talking about default KDE software, should always begin with Dolphin in my opinion. Dolphin is the creme de la creme of GNU/Linux file browsers; powerful, attractive, full of features and nicely organized, it’s truly hard to beat Dolphin.

I typically customize my Dolphin to include a filter bar, folder tree, and split screen view; maximizing my efficiency and saving myself clicks down the road when I have work to do I don’t feel like doing via CLI.

KDE Dolphin

Other awesome pieces of software include things like Gwenview, which is the default photo organizer and viewer for KDE Plasma; it’s attractive yet minimalistic (for KDE), and does everything I personally need... digiKam however takes that to the next level with an open source KDE alternative to Adobe Bridge.

A very powerful, professional grade photo organizer and manager; digiKam is a great piece of software for anyone who’s seriously shutter happy like I am.

KDE digiKam

One piece of software I’m not sure about whether is shipped with KDE Plasma by default or whether the Manjaro team decided to use on their own, was Krita:

Krita is a photo editor similar to GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, however I personally haven’t used it much.

Note: it is available as a free download for Linux, Mac and Windows here.

Doing a little research on it, it seems like many people are starting to switch from GIMP to Krita, and it (apparently) has much better organization and tools that neither GIMP nor Photoshop have. So, YMMV with Krita, but definitely worth checking out!

KDE Krita

Some other noteworthy applications included with KDE are:

  • Kget – A download manager that I have made great use of in the past
  • Konversation – an IRC Client. I typically use weechat (a CLI IRC client) inside a screen session on a VPS of mine so I’m constantly connected, but Konversation is quite great for casual IRC users.
  • KnetAttach – A tool to make easy Dolphin integration to remote folders a breeze.
  • K3b – CD/DVD burning software
  • KDE Partition manager
  • Ksysguard – KDE Task manager. Very similar to Windows Task Manager, very simple to use (CNTRL+Esc makes for a nice and easy hotkey too, which is set by default)
  • Kate – KDE version of notepad
  • Ark – Very powerful and easy to use archive manager similar to winRAR / 7zip /pzip

There are others included as well, KDE does a wonderful job of including plenty of built in tools to manage your system, and all of them are powerful.

System Resources

KDE Ksysguard

The one potential downside to running KDE is that it’s hungry. I do not recommend running KDE on a netbook, older machine, or anything less than a decent i3 with 4-6GB of RAM minimum. Just my own personal recommendation mind you, those are not official numbers from the KDE community.

On my system, with nothing open or running outside of the default startup services, KDE used around 600MB of RAM and 8% CPU. With Firefox +40 Tabs on the Manjaro Homepage, Gwenview with a photo loaded, LibreOffice with this document loaded, Dolphin and Spotify with a song playing, it used 1.7GB of RAM, and around 18-20% CPU; not the end of the world, this laptop handled it without issue, but do keep in mind if you are using a netbook or other older machine that KDE will without any doubt run your machine to a grinding halt.

Final Words

KDE is beautiful. KDE is powerful. KDE is customizable beyond potentially all other desktop environments with the inclusion of things like widgets / plasmoids and endless amount of theme possibilities...I do not have any real reason why I have never stuck with KDE in the past; perhaps since it’s installed on this laptop I’ll run it for a while and see if it can trump MATE in my personal preferences. I do highly recommend KDE to anyone who doesn’t mind sparing the resources, and desires a gorgeous and mighty environment for their GNU/Linux machine!

What about you? What are your thoughts on KDE? What DE do you use?

More desktop environment overviews to come, so stay tuned!

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A look at Desktop Environments: MATE http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/a-look-at-desktop-environments-mate/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/a-look-at-desktop-environments-mate/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 17:23:25 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131561 One of the most amazing things about GNU/Linux is it's customizability, both on a deeper system level but also on the surface with various desktop environments and window managers at the users disposal. My personal favourite of the various desktop environments is MATE (pronounced Mah-Tay). I started using GNU/Linux about 17 years ago on my […]

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One of the most amazing things about GNU/Linux is it's customizability, both on a deeper system level but also on the surface with various desktop environments and window managers at the users disposal.

My personal favourite of the various desktop environments is MATE (pronounced Mah-Tay). I started using GNU/Linux about 17 years ago on my buddies computer his uncle set up for him, which used Mandrake Linux, but it wasn't until about six years later when I decided to install Ubuntu on my own machine at home and really dive into learning how to use the operating system that would later become a major part of my life.

Back when I installed Ubuntu it used the Gnome 2 desktop environment, and so I became very familiar with its user interface. Nowadays Gnome has gone a different direction however there is still a huge userbase of people who loved the old interface, and so the MATE project was born out of the ashes of Gnome 2 as a fork of the original code.

MATE, while being based off Gnome 2 has further developed the code and brought forth a plethora of new features and updates, so it gives me that old nostalgic familiarity while still remaining relatively up to date with features; granted not quite as up to date as some of the other desktop environments, but I have yet to find a feature I desperately needed and was lacking.

So, for the first part in this series about the various desktop environments, let's have a look at MATE!

A look at Desktop Environments: MATE

The machine I am using for this has the following specs:

  • Intel i5-4210U

  • 8GB DDR3

  • SSD

  • Using Manjaro as the OS, initially XFCE edition but installing MATE afterwards

This will not be written so much as a scored review, but simply an overview for those who are not familiar with MATE, who may be looking for a change in their day to day happenings and clickings.

Customization and Default Appearance

MATE Desktop Default

The default appearance after I installed MATE onto my Manjaro system is honestly hideous in my opinion, but thankfully MATE is very easily themed.

It comes with two panels on the top and bottom of your screen that pretty much have everything you could need readily accessible; albeit perhaps a little more cluttered than some users may prefer.

I prefer to remove the bottom panel, and add a window list to my top panel; this saves a little bit of screen real estate which given that this laptop has a 13" screen is always nice. One thing I do add though is a dock that hides on the bottom of my screen using Docky, with my favourite applications added to it for quick and easy access.

MATE Desktop Themed

Customizing the appearance of MATE is fairly quick and painless and thankfully has quite a few options for pre-packaged themes and wallpapers to select from.

If you are using the MATE menu with the three "Applications / Places / System" buttons, you can easily access the theme section by clicking System > Preferences > Look and Feel > Appearance and then selecting the theme of choice.

Wallpapers can be accessed by right clicking the desktop and selecting "Change Desktop Background."

MATE has the option of using GTK 2.X as well as GTK 3.X, so there are hundreds of themes available. For more, visit https://www.gnome-look.org

Default Software

MATE Caja

MATE comes with all the default software you'd expect from a general user environment, and actually is bundled with my favourite terminal software. 

While I admit that KDE has my favourite file manager, Dolphin, the file manager in MATE known as Caja is quite capable and decent all on its own.

MATE also comes with the Eye of MATE Image Viewer, which is a very lightweight but quite capable image viewing program that I have grown quite fond of over the years. It's definitely not the most powerful thing in the world, but it's quite useful.

Overall, any system that runs MATE will have most software you need preinstalled, and the MATE specific tools are all designed to be simple, light, and get the job done.

System resources used

mate system resources

MATE is known as a fairly lightweight environment, albeit not as light as XFCE, LXDE or the even more lightweight window managers like i3 or openbox.

Mate when I closed all software I had open, and shut down Docky, was using around 460MB of RAM only, and around 0.7% of my CPU on both cores -- so very little system resources were being used.

Even when I open Firefox with 40 tabs on google, Caja, Spotify with music playing, Eye of Mate with an image loaded, my terminal and OpenOffice with this tutorial opened; my system reported 1.9GB of RAM being used, so my laptop was able to handle it all without any issues whatsoever.

Final words

I can't stress it enough, I adore MATE. It's light, it's attractive, the software that comes bundled is useful without being overly complex or bogging down the system with bells and whistles you don't need. It's not as fancy as KDE, and it's not as light as XFCE or LXDE; but MATE does what it does well and I have nothing I personally can complain about.

What about you? What's your take on MATE? What DE do you use?

Stay tuned for overviews on other environments to come!

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Tab Ninja: better Chrome tab controls http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/tab-ninja-better-chrome-tab-controls/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/tab-ninja-better-chrome-tab-controls/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:42:15 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131557 Tab Ninja is a free browser extension for the Google Chrome web browser that gives you better options when it comes to controlling tabs in the browser. Google made the decision recently to remove certain tab features from the browser. The Close other tabs, and Close tabs to the right options will be removed from […]

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Tab Ninja is a free browser extension for the Google Chrome web browser that gives you better options when it comes to controlling tabs in the browser.

Google made the decision recently to remove certain tab features from the browser. The Close other tabs, and Close tabs to the right options will be removed from Chrome in the near future.

This is an inconvenience for users who use these tab control options right now in the browser. Google suggests to use tab highlighting, and the shortcut Ctrl-W instead, but it is not as comfortable to use as the existing options.

Enter Tab Ninja for Chrome.

Tab Ninja

tab ninja

Tab Ninja adds an incredible number of tab related options to the web browser. Among those options are the soon to be removed tab close options.

Here is an overview of what is supported by the current version of the browser extension:

  • Close pinned, audible, or muted tabs.
  • Close tabs to the left, tabs to the right, or other tabs (all but the active tab).
  • Same as above, but including pinned tabs.
  • Close tabs of the same host, same domain, or same URL.
  • Same as above, but including the active tab.
  • Close highlighted tabs.
  • Close currently loading tabs.
  • Close loaded tabs.
  • Close discarded tabs.
  • Close discardable tabs.

Tab Ninja offers plenty of tab control options to Chrome. You use the extension by right-clicking anywhere on the active page, and selecting Tab Ninja from the context menu that opens.

The extension is very powerful when it comes to controlling tabs. There are downsides however currently, mostly from a usability point of view.

First of all, it cannot be used when you right-click on tabs in Chrome. It would be better for obvious reasons if the extension would display its options on tab right-clicks as well.

The second issue is that you don't get any filtering options. There is no options page right now that lets you hide some of the tab control options.

The menu is quite large right now, and it would be useful if you could hide the options that you will never use to reduce the menu and improve the accessibility of the options that you use.

Closing Words

Tab Ninja is a great tab extension for Chrome, especially when you consider that Google will remove tab related context menu options from the Chrome browser in the near future.

It may be a way out for users who rely on close tabs to the right, and close other tabs options.

Now You: Which tab-based operations do you perform regularly?

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Exclusive preview of Startpage’s new image search tools http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/exclusive-preview-of-startpages-new-image-search-tools/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/exclusive-preview-of-startpages-new-image-search-tools/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 10:17:54 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131548 The privacy focused search engine Startpage will launch new image search related tools soon that improve the user experience significantly. Startpage, just like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, offers a dedicated image search option that users can make use of. While you can use web searches to find sites with images as well, using the image […]

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The privacy focused search engine Startpage will launch new image search related tools soon that improve the user experience significantly.

Startpage, just like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo, offers a dedicated image search option that users can make use of.

While you can use web searches to find sites with images as well, using the image search engine returns image results right away.

That's great for previewing images, something that web search does not really offer. Up until now, you had only a couple of options when it came to finding images using Startpage.

Startpage: new image search tools

startpage image search tools

Image searches start like they always have. Open Startpage and click on the images link there to get started. Or, type in the search term and run a search, and pick the images filter on the results page.

You may also run image searches directly by loading this url instead: https://www.startpage.com/eng/pics.html

Note that it is language encoded. You get the right URL when you right-click on images on Startpage and select copy link address from the menu.

The new version of Images search on Startpage features three new tools that users can make use of:

  • Size: This enables you to filter image results by size. You can either pick one of the defined sizes, enter a desired minimum size, find icons, or find custom size images by entering width and height manually.
  • Color: Select the desired color, and Startpage will only return images if the dominant color matches the selected one.
  • Type: Enables you to filter images by file type. Supported are jpg, png and gif.

The new tools improve the user experience when searching for images on Startpage. Take the search for new wallpaper images for instance.

While you could do so previously as well, the new tools enable you to set a minimum resolution, and also color or file type if you want. So, no more clicking on images to find out if they match the desired resolution for instance.

Since you may not want wallpaper images that are lower than the resolution of your device, you can use the image search tools to make sure that all low resolution images are filtered out automatically.

Want only super high resolution images? Either pick a custom resolution, or filter all image results that are smaller than 70 Megapixels (that is 9600x7200).

Want only red wallpaper images to match the color scheme you set on your operating system, or your favorite color? Done with a simple click on the color filter.

Google Images and Bing Images offer similar, or even more image search tools. On Google, you can filter by usage rights or time of publication. On Bing, you can filter by layout and people on top of that.

But Startpage brings privacy to the table, something that you won't get when you run searches on Google's or Bing's image search engine. You get the same privacy protection that you get when you run searches on Startpage.

Startpage's image search capabilities surpass those of DuckDuckGo, another popular privacy focused search engine. If you check out DuckDuckGo's capabilities right now, you will notice that you can only filter by small, medium or large images. There is no option to set a minimum resolution, nor options to filter by color or type.

The new search capabilities will be rolled out very soon to the public.

Now read: Five Startpage tips to improve your search experience

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Here is the first mockup screenshot of Firefox 57’s new design http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/here-is-the-first-mockup-screenshot-of-firefox-57s-new-design/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/24/here-is-the-first-mockup-screenshot-of-firefox-57s-new-design/#comments Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:45:14 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131513 Mozilla plans to make Firefox 57 a milestone release by introducing major changes to the web browser when the version is released. We talked about those in the past already; most notable probably is the focus on WebExtensions in Firefox 57. Classic add-ons will stop working at that time, as they are no longer supported […]

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Mozilla plans to make Firefox 57 a milestone release by introducing major changes to the web browser when the version is released.

We talked about those in the past already; most notable probably is the focus on WebExtensions in Firefox 57. Classic add-ons will stop working at that time, as they are no longer supported in the stable version of the web browser.

If things turn out well, Firefox 57 will also be the version of Firefox that ships with a first version of Quantum. Quantum bits will replace their equivalent in the Gecko engine. It is all about parallelism and modern hardware, and it includes components adopted from the Servo project.

What it means for users is that Firefox will get a speed boost when compared to the browser's current engine Gecko.

Note: Firefox 57 is the release target for these changes. There is still a chance that things may be delayed along the way, so that they land in a later stable version of Firefox.

Firefox 57: new Firefox theme

firefox photon design

Along with those major changes comes a design refresh that runs under the codename Photon currently.

Veteran Firefox users may remember the last time Mozilla changed the theme for Firefox. The Australis theme for Firefox 29 was controversial for a number of reasons. Some users thought that it looked too much like Google Chrome, others disliked that customization features were removed when the theme launched that were part of Firefox for years.

Users who did not like the design installed extensions like Classic Theme Restorer to restore most of the classic Firefox after the Australis launch.

The new Firefox design that Mozilla plans to make the default in Firefox 57 has not been revealed officially yet. But, it was revealed unofficially in a a Firefox Screenshot mockup that revealed the functionality.

Note: Mockup means that things may, and probably will, change before release. What you see is not the final product.

Probably the biggest change in the new theme is related to tabs in the browser. Mozilla launched curved tabs in Australis, and plans to make tabs squared in Firefox 57. These tabs are full squares, whereas pre-Australis tabs used had rounded edges.

The mockup shows no search bar, and the address bar is centered on the main toolbar. While this could mean that Mozilla will hide the search bar by default, it is too early to conclude that or anything else related to the design.

Another change that is visible on the mockup is that back, forward and reload buttons are visible on the left side of the main toolbar.

firefox current design

If you look at Firefox's current design, you will notice that the forward button is only displayed when it can be used (meaning when you can go forward in history), and that the reload button is attached to the right of the address field.

Here is how Google Chrome's design looks currently. The tab design looks different, and the placement of the address bar as well if Mozilla plans to keep the address bar centered in the interface of the browser.

chrome current design

The button placement on the left of the main toolbar is identical, with the exception of the home button that the mockup of the new Firefox 57 design shows as the home button is missing in Chrome.

Questions

Things will get clearer in the next couple of months. Right now, questions may come up that cannot be answered right now:

  1. What is the status of the search bar? Will it be visible by default, hidden for new users?
  2. What modifications are supported by default? Can icons still be moved around?
  3. Classic Theme Restorer is dead. Will there be something similarly available to modify the interface beyond what Mozilla makes available? E.g. tabs on bottom and not top.
  4. How capable is the theme API when Firefox 57 is released?

Now You: What are your wishes for a new theme in Firefox? (via Sören Hentzschel)

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How to enable two-factor authentication on Instagram http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/how-to-enable-instagram-two-factor-authentication/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/how-to-enable-instagram-two-factor-authentication/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:38:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131505 Instagram announced on March 23, 2017 that the company did enable two-factor authentication support for all users of the service. Two-factor authentication adds a security layer to the sign in process on Instagram. What is meant by that is that you are required to complete a second authentication step before you are signed in to […]

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Instagram announced on March 23, 2017 that the company did enable two-factor authentication support for all users of the service.

Two-factor authentication adds a security layer to the sign in process on Instagram. What is meant by that is that you are required to complete a second authentication step before you are signed in to your account and can start using the Instagram application.

An attacker would have to gain access to the username and password, and also the security code that is sent to the user when a new sign in is initiated. Please note that you are only asked to complete the second authentication step if you sign in from an unknown device according to the "Keeping Instagram Safe" page.

Instagram supports two different types of codes that users may use to complete the two-factor authentication process. The first comes via SMS, and it is the primary means of authentication. You get a code via SMS which you need to enter to complete the sign in process.

The second is one of several backup codes. These codes are one-use codes that are generated automatically when you setup the new authentication feature on Instagram.

How to enable two-factor authentication on Instagram

The only requirement for enabling two-factor authentication on Instagram is that you add a mobile phone number to the user profile.  You can do so during the setup process, and don't need to add the phone number prior to that.

Two-factor authentication is supported on Android and iOS devices.

Step 1: Click on the profile icon in the bottom menu bar. Tap on the menu icon that is displayed in the top right corner when the profile page opens.

instagram setup two-factor authentication

Step 2: Scroll down until you find Two-Factor Authentication listed there, and tap on the option. Toggle "Require Security Code" to enable the security feature for your Instagram account.

instagram security code

Instagram displays a prompt when you toggle the security option:

Turn this on?

Turning on two-factor authentication means we'll send you a security code to enter every time you log in.

Select turn on.

Step 3: The next step depends on whether you have added a mobile phone number to Instagram already or not. If you have, you get a six digit code sent to the number which you need to enter. If you have not, you are asked to enter and verify the phone first.

instagram two-factor authentication

Step 4: Backup codes are listed on the next page. These codes can be used as one-time codes to sign in. Can be useful if the SMS don't arrive on your device for instance for whatever reason.

How to turn two-factor authentication off again

You can turn off two-factor authentication again at any point in time, provided that you can access the account.

Turning off is simpler. You follow the steps outlined above, but toggle the "require security code" feature to off this time. You need to confirm the turning off of the security feature in the next step when a prompt is displayed to you.

Disabling two-factor authentication on Instagram requires no extra confirmation of any kind.

Closing Words

Support for two-factor authentication for all users is an important step in keeping Instagram accounts safe. It is easy enough to setup, but only supports SMS or backup codes for now. Support for other code generation options, through applications for instance, would certainly be a welcome addition.

Now You: do you use Instagram?

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TTSFox: Firefox Text to Speech add-on that works offline http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/ttsfox-firefox-text-to-speech-add-on-that-works-offline/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/ttsfox-firefox-text-to-speech-add-on-that-works-offline/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:23:36 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131502 TTSFox is a new add-on for the Firefox web browser that adds text to speech functionality to the browser, even when the device is offline. It can sometimes be useful to have something read aloud to you. This can be the case if you do something that is not directly in front of the monitor, […]

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TTSFox is a new add-on for the Firefox web browser that adds text to speech functionality to the browser, even when the device is offline.

It can sometimes be useful to have something read aloud to you. This can be the case if you do something that is not directly in front of the monitor, or if the Firefox window is not the active window.

Accessibility may also play a role, for instance if your eyesight is not the best anymore, or if you prefer to listen to text as it is easier for you.

One way for doing so in the Firefox web browser is to use the web browser's built-in Reader Mode.

Reader Mode works by default on blogs for the most part, and one of the latest versions of it supports voice as well.

TTSFox: Firefox Text to Speech add-on

firefox text to speech

TTSFox is a new Firefox add-on that enables you to listen to any text that you highlight. The add-on is a WebExtension, which is good as it means that it will continue to work once Firefox 57 gets released.

If you have not heard, Mozilla will block classic Firefox add-ons from working in the browser at that point in time. So, any add-on that is not a WebExtension by then, will stop working.

It works by selecting text on the web page that you are on, and clicking on the icon the extension placed in the main Firefox toolbar afterwards.

The interface that opens up looks like the one on the screenshot above. The highlighted text is displayed in the right text field automatically. The left side lists the available speech engines or variants, as well as three sliders to modify the pitch, speed and volume.

The available voices depend on the operating system that you run. On Windows, you get Microsoft David Desktop and Microsoft Zira Desktop. The first is a male voice, the second a female voice.

A click on the speech button starts the read aloud process. You can click on cancel at any time to stop it, but that is in terms of functionality right now.

The add-on is more flexible than Firefox's Reader Mode when it comes to text that can be read aloud. Virtually any text that you can highlight in a browser tab can be read aloud.

The downside is that you need to highlight text to use the extension. Reader Mode works differently, as it will automatically read all text aloud that is displayed after the page's conversion to a better readable copy.

TTSFox has an ace up its sleeve however. You can paste or type text into the field as well, to have it read out aloud to you. This means that you can use the extension directly, for instance by pasting a full Word document into the interface.

Closing Words

TTSFox is a handy add-on if you like to use or even need text to speech functionality in the web browser.

Now You: Do you use text to speech?

 

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You can now watch Netflix in Firefox on Linux http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/you-can-now-watch-netflix-in-firefox-on-linux/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/you-can-now-watch-netflix-in-firefox-on-linux/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:08:00 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131490 Netflix announced on Tuesday that Linux users may use the Firefox web browser on their devices now to watch video streams on the website. Netflix started to work on HTML5 compatibility almost four years ago to improve the service's compatibility. The video streaming service relied on the use of plugins, most notably Microsoft Silverlight in […]

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Netflix announced on Tuesday that Linux users may use the Firefox web browser on their devices now to watch video streams on the website.

Netflix started to work on HTML5 compatibility almost four years ago to improve the service's compatibility. The video streaming service relied on the use of plugins, most notably Microsoft Silverlight in the early days, which limited compatibility with devices.

Netflix with Silverlight is for instance only compatible with Windows and Mac Os X devices (if the Silverlight technology is installed on the device), while HMTL5 content is also available on Linux.

Linux users up until now could only use Google Chrome to watch Netflix on Linux. This changed recently according to Netflix, as recent versions of the Firefox web browser are supported now as well.

Neflix in Firefox on Linux

netflix firefox linux

The following browsers are officially supported by Netflix on Linux:

  • Google Chrome version 37 or later on Windows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.9 or later (Mavericks), or Linux
  • Mozilla Firefox version 47 or later on Windows Vista or later, Mac OS X 10.7 or later, or Linux (Supported on stable, official release builds from Mozilla. Non-Mozilla builds are not supported).

Note that Firefox will prompt you to allow the installation of its DRM module if you try to run Netflix in the browser on Linux. This is required, and canceling the prompt results in Netflix not working in the browser. Firefox uses the same DRM plugin that Google Chrome ships with.

While Firefox support on Linux is a good thing for users of Linux, Netflix notes that its customer support won't assist uses with troubleshooting issues on Linux devices due to the "many configurations of Linux".

The maximum resolutions are identical to the ones on Windows and Mac devices. Both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox support resolutions of up to 720p.

Three browsers support higher resolutions, but they are not available on Linux. That is Safari and Internet Explorer with 1080p, and Microsoft Edge with 4K. Netflix notes that 4K streaming requires compatible hardware: a 4K display with a HDCP 2.2 compliant connection, and a 7th generation Intel cpu. Since Edge is only available on Windows 10, it requires that operating system as well.

Good news for Netflix customers who want higher resolutions on other browsers. Netflix announced that it plans to bring higher resolutions, as well as Dolby Vision and HDR10 to other platforms as well.

But this is just the beginning. We launched 4K Ultra HD on Microsoft Edge in December of 2016, and look forward to high-resolution video being available on more platforms soon. We are also looking ahead to HDR video. Netflix-supported TVs with Chromecast built-in—which use a version of our web player—already support Dolby Vision and HDR10. And we are working with our partners to provide similar support on other platforms over time.

Now You: Do you stream videos online? Which service and browser do you use for that?

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Windows 10 KB4016635 Update released http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/windows-10-kb4016635-update-released/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/windows-10-kb4016635-update-released/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:26:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131487 Microsoft released a new cumulative update for the company's Windows 10 operating system, KB4016635 that patches two issues. The update is not available through Windows Update, but exclusively available on the Microsoft Update Catalog. It is unclear right now whether Microsoft will make it available through Windows Update at a later point in time. The […]

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Microsoft released a new cumulative update for the company's Windows 10 operating system, KB4016635 that patches two issues.

The update is not available through Windows Update, but exclusively available on the Microsoft Update Catalog. It is unclear right now whether Microsoft will make it available through Windows Update at a later point in time.

The new update replaces the previously released update KB4015438 which Microsoft released on March 20, 2017. The previous update fixed two crash and hang issues in the operating system that affected MPEG2 playback if Microsoft libraries were used for that, and systems with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled.

The cumulative update KB4016635 for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) and Windows Server 2016 increases the build number of the operating system to 14393.970.

Windows 10 KB4016635 Update

kb4016635

The update fixes the following two issues:

  • Addressed a known issue with KB4013429 that caused form display issues with CRM 2011 on Internet Explorer 11.
  • Addressed the issue with KB4013429 that prevents users from updating apps from Windows Store with 0x80070216 error.

The two bugs were introduced on the March 2017 Patch Day. A workaround patch was discovered for the issue which was caused by improper CSS according to this report on Ask Woody.

Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 users who are affected by the issue in CRM 2011 are advised to install the cumulative update as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

The cumulative update fixes a Windows Store issue that prevented users from updating applications as well.

The 64-bit version of the update has a size of 1062.7 Megabyte, the 32-bit version which is only available for Windows 10 and not Windows Server 2016, a size of 569.2 Megabyte.

Microsoft did release a patch for Internet Explorer 11 as well that fixes the issue on earlier versions of Windows.  You can find out more about the patch on the KB4016446 support page on the Microsoft website.

Forms in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 are not displayed correctly after KB 4013073 is installed on a Windows system that is running Internet Explorer 11.

KB 4013073 is a cumulative security update for Internet Explorer 11 that's dated March 14, 2017. The affected Windows versions are Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

You can download the patch for Internet Explorer 11 on the Microsoft Update Catalog site. It is available there for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows Server 2012 R2.

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Opera 45: Telegram inclusion, Reborn improvements http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/opera-45-telegram-inclusion-reborn-improvements/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/23/opera-45-telegram-inclusion-reborn-improvements/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 05:49:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131479 Opera Software released several updates for Opera 45 Developer recently that brings Telegram integration, and improvements to the Reborn redesign of the browser. Reborn, a new design for the Opera web browser was revealed when Opera Software released Opera 44 Developer to the public. Reborn is not a complete change of the look and feel […]

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Opera Software released several updates for Opera 45 Developer recently that brings Telegram integration, and improvements to the Reborn redesign of the browser.

Reborn, a new design for the Opera web browser was revealed when Opera Software released Opera 44 Developer to the public. Reborn is not a complete change of the look and feel of the web browser, but a modernization of the interface without changing any of the functionality of the browser.

One of the changes that came along with Reborn was support for Facebook Messenger in the browser's sidebar. The feature used the sidebar's capability to display web content in it. So, what Opera Software did was integrate the web version of Facebook Messenger in the sidebar.

Later on, support for WhatsApp was introduced in a similar fashion.

Opera 45: Telegram support

opera telegram

The most recent Developer version update of the Opera browser added Telegram Messenger support to the mix. The feature works similar to Messenger and WhatsApp: it is not enabled by default, and users need to activate it by clicking on the Telegram icon, and following the process to sign in to a Telegram account using the web-based version of the messenger.

Once enabled, Telegram users can interact with their contacts directly from Opera's sidebar.

Opera users can hide any of the messenger icons -- and other icons -- of the sidebar by right-clicking on the sidebar and removing the checkmarks next to items that they don't want displayed there.

Opera Software should consider changing the display of messenger icons in the sidebar, especially if the company considers adding more to it in future versions. The sidebar could get quite crowded if the company adds more services to the sidebar.

One dedicated "chat" icon for all messengers, and the listing of all supported services on activation would probably be a better option.

Another change in regards to the supported messenger services is that you can now log out of the service using a menu that Opera Software added to the interface. You had to use the web version of the service previously to do that.

whatsapp opera close

Click on the new menu icon (the three dots) when the chat window is open, and select the log out option there. You find options to mute the messenger there as well. The latter option is useful if you don't want to be disturbed for a period of time.

New Bookmark dialog

opera 45 bookmark

Another change that Opera Software made to the browser is the new dialog that appears when you add bookmarks to the browser.

While the bookmark gets added right away, you may use the popup to change its location in the bookmarks, and get a visual confirmation that it was added to the browser.

While you did get a confirmation previously as well, as Opera painted the bookmark icon in red to indicate that the page is bookmarked in the browser, it "gives a clearer way of adding bookmarks for users who missed the confirmation".

A click anywhere else while the bookmark popup is open dismisses it.

More video hardware acceleration on Windows

opera hardware video deoding

Opera Software notes that the browser will "send even more videos to the GPU for decoding on Windows".  If it works, it should result in lower battery usage, and higher resolutions and framerates.

Opera users may toggle the feature using the chrome://flags/?search=media#media-windows-mf-demuxer flag.

Other changes

A handful of smaller changes went into Opera 45 Developer as well. Mac users may make the sidebar smaller so that it looks like the one on Windows. This is done via Settings > Browser > Sidebar > Enable Narrow Sidebar.

The browser's built-in advertising blocker was improved as well. If you toggle ad blocking now for instance, you will notice that the active page is reloaded automatically.

Another important change affects the lists that Opera uses to block content on the Web. The new feature gives you control over those lists, so that you may enable or disable them.

Now You: What's your take on the changes in Opera Developer?

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Ghacks Deals: TNT Stream Unblocker Plus: Lifetime Subscription (Netflix works) http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/ghacks-deals-tnt-stream-unblocker-plus-lifetime-subscription-netflix-works/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/ghacks-deals-tnt-stream-unblocker-plus-lifetime-subscription-netflix-works/#respond Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:46:04 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131432 Today's deal brings you a lifetime subscription to TNT Stream Unblocker Plus (or regular without the Plus). It is a service that may either be used to access geo-blocking streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, or as a VPN. I had the change to test the functionality of the service, and streaming tests did […]

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Today's deal brings you a lifetime subscription to TNT Stream Unblocker Plus (or regular without the Plus). It is a service that may either be used to access geo-blocking streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, or as a VPN.

I had the change to test the functionality of the service, and streaming tests did work fine at the time of writing. This included access to Netflix and Hulu among many other options.

The core difference between TNT Stream Unblocker Plus and the regular service is that you get more locations when you sign up for Plus. Since it is available for just $5 more for a lifetime license, it is a no brainer to pick the Plus account.

Click here to open the TNT Stream Unblocker offer on Ghacks Deals

Instructions on how to set up the service on Windows, Ubuntu, and Mac OS X, and on Android and iOS are provided on the developer website.

Ever get the error message, "content not available in your location," when you're trying to stream your favorite shows and movies? You won't ever again with a lifetime subscription to TNT Stream Unblocker Plus. Unblock hundreds of streaming services through a worldwide network of servers designed to offer IP addresses from 80 locations around the world. You'll never go hungry for Netflix again.

  • Unblock hundreds of streaming services from all over the world
  • Protect your online information w/ the included VPN service
  • Browse through 80 locations around the world w/ 2000 fast IPs available
  • Use on up to 5 concurrent devices, from your laptops & tablets, to smartphones & Chromebook
  • Experience an uncensored internet while bypassing the prying eyes of your ISP & government
  • Get Netflix from anywhere in the world on a PC or Mac
  • Browse online w/ high-speed connection without throttling by your ISP

Prefer other streaming services? Here you go

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Windows 10: look up data usage for the past 30 days http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/windows-10-look-up-data-usage-for-the-past-30-days/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/windows-10-look-up-data-usage-for-the-past-30-days/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:02:05 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131436 The following guide walks you through the steps of looking up data usage information on devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. It can sometimes be useful to find out how much data is used on a device in a given period of time. Maybe you are on a metered Internet connection and want to […]

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The following guide walks you through the steps of looking up data usage information on devices running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.

It can sometimes be useful to find out how much data is used on a device in a given period of time. Maybe you are on a metered Internet connection and want to make sure that you did not cross any thresholds yet.

Or, you crossed a threshold last month and want to find out how that happened, and what you can do about it.

You may also use it to find out which programs or apps did use data in the past 30 days, for instance as part of a security or privacy audit.

While you can use specialized programs for that that monitor network traffic. To name a few that we reviewed in the past: Netlimiter Monitor, Networx, or Network Traffic Balancer.

Windows 10: data usage

If you run Windows 10, and to a degree also Windows 8.x, you can look up basic information about data usage without installing third-party tools.

Option 1: Data Usage in Settings

The first thing that you can do to check data usage on Windows 10 is to look it up in the Settings.

You can launch the Settings app with the shortcut Windows-I. Select the Network & Internet option when it opens.

network internet

Locate the data usage link in the left sidebar when Network & Internet opens, and click on it.

Windows 10 displays the overall bandwidth on the page. This is sorted by adapter. If your device connects using various Ethernet ports or WiFi, it is listed there separately.

data usage

Click on the usage details link on the page to open the list of programs, and the bandwidth that each used in the last 30 days.

data usage

The programs and apps are sorted by the amount of transferred data, with the program that used the most listed at the top.

You can scroll down on the page, but there is no 0ption to find a specific program, sort the data in a different way, or export it.

Option 2: Windows Task Manager

windows 10 app history

The Task Manager option was introduced in Windows 8 for the first time. It is limited to the data usage (and other metrics) of applications.

What this means is that you only get a list of installed (Windows Store) apps there, and not desktop programs / legacy Win32 programs.

Still, if you want to find out which app used data in the past 30 days, you may find the listing useful.

Use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Esc to open the Windows Task Manager. Switch to the App history tab when it is open.

There you find listed all apps that used CPU time or network data. One advantage of the listing in the Task Manager is that you can sort the data with a click on a column title. A click on network sorts the application listing by network data usage for instance.

Option 3: Powershell

powershell data

I'm not super proficient when it comes to PowerShell, but you can use it to list the total of received and sent bytes.

To start a PowerShell interface, tap on the Windows-key, type Powershell, hold down the Shift and Ctrl key on the keyboard, and execute the result from search.

Use the command Get-NetAdapterStatistics to display data usage information for each connected network adapter.

Now You: Do you monitor data usage on Windows?

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KB4012218, KB4012219: Windows Update processor generation detection http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/kb4012218-kb4012219-windows-update-processor-generation-detection/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/kb4012218-kb4012219-windows-update-processor-generation-detection/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 07:53:33 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131473 The March 2017 preview updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 introduce Windows Update processor generation and hardware support detection. Microsoft published KB4012218 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and KB4012219 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 yesterday evening. These previews are only available through the Microsoft Update Catalog, […]

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The March 2017 preview updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 introduce Windows Update processor generation and hardware support detection.

Microsoft published KB4012218 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and KB4012219 for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 yesterday evening.

These previews are only available through the Microsoft Update Catalog, and only include non-security updates.

They are designed to give system administrators, and interested home users, time to test cumulative updates for the operating systems they are released for before they are pushed out through Windows Update on the next Patch Day.

What's particularly interesting about these two preview updates is that they introduce the detection of the device's processor generation and hardware support.

Both include the following entry:

Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.

As you may know, Microsoft announced some time ago that it would not support the latest generation of processors on older versions of Windows. To hammer this home even more, Microsoft revealed that it will block updates on older versions of Windows if the device was powered by a processor of the latest generation.

Test showed that this was not the case at the time of revelation. It appears now though, that the updates KB4012218 and KB4012219 introduce that functionality on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (and the server versions).

Tests need to be conducted to find out whether this is indeed the case when the release updates are made available though.

For now though, it seems like a good idea to avoid these patches if your Windows device uses a cpu of the latest generation, or if you plan to equip it with one in the future.

KB4012218

kb4012218

Changelog:

  • Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.
  • Simplified listing of Approved Servers in the Point and Print group policies by allowing wildcards in the server name.
  • Addressed issue that produces corrupt output when using fread() to read data from a pipe. The runtime will sometimes drop the newlines between lines.
  • Addressed issue to update time zone information.
  • Addressed issue with the Local Security Authority Subsystem Service process that crashes on the domain controller when making certain Lightweight Directory Access Protocol requests.

KB4012219

kb4012219

 

Changelog:

  • Enabled a warning message in Group Policy Management Console (GPMC) to alert administrators of a design change that may prevent the processing of a User Group after installing security update MS16-072.
  • Addressed issue that prevents a smart card module from pairing with a contactless smart card reader.
  • Addressed issue where a Scale-Out File Server that uses dual parity disks loses access to a disk if a disk fails while the parity log is being written.
  • Addressed issue with the Spaceport driver that causes disks to detach after a hard restart.
  • Addressed issue in multipath I/O when Driver Verifier is enabled.
  • Addressed issue that causes workload disruption in Azure StorSimple appliances after installing KB3169982. Installation occurs using the KB3172614 rollup (released 2016.07).
  • Addressed issue that causes crashes in a customer’s data path management software because of a regression in multipath I/O after installing KB3185279, KB3185331, or KB3192404.
  • Addressed issue where installation of KB3121261 on a third-party, thinly provisioned Storage Area Network causes multipath I/O Event ID 48. This is in response to Small Computer System Interface status - 0X28 - SCSISTAT_QUEUE_FULL (SRB Status - 0X4 - SRB_STATUS_ERROR).
  • Addressed issue to provide PowerShell cmdlets that enable and gather diagnostics for storage spaces.
  • Addressed issue with multipath I/O failure that can lead to data corruption or application failures.
  • Addressed issue that causes File Explorer to hang when performing a search on a network drive while connected using the Remote Desktop Protocol.
  • Addressed issue that causes a crash when the user tries to connect to the server using WinShare and Remote Desktop Services. Stop error 0x50 at win32k!pDCIAdjClr+0x4f.
  • Enabled detection of processor generation and hardware support when PC tries to scan or download updates through Windows Update.
  • Improved support for networks by adding new entries to the Access Point Name (APN) database.
  • Simplified listing of Approved Servers in the Point and Print group policies by allowing wildcards in the server name.
  • Addressed issue to update Windows Defender on Windows 8.1.
  • Addressed issue that prevents clients from accessing a file server when using Server Message Block 1.0 and NT LAN Manager authentication after installing MS16-110/KB3187754.
  • Addressed issue that produces corrupted output when you use the fread() function to read data from a pipe.
  • Addressed issue to set and persist the Quality of Service settings on a per-host basis.
  • Addressed issue that breaks high-availability and fail over of a clustered virtual machine (VM). This occurs when the default data store settings for the VMs are configured inconsistently across the nodes in the cluster. For example, some data store settings are in %ProgramData%, while others use shared storage.
  • Addressed issue where, under high load, the background tasks threads are blocked. None of the clusters that use Virtual Hard Disk Sharing can access their disks. This results in unresponsive virtual machines.
  • Addressed issue (error 0x800b) that causes System Center Virtual Machine Manager to fail after live migrating a virtual machine between two Hyper-V clusters.
  • Addressed issue where false file conflicts occur when Windows Server Work Folders is reinstalled after installing Azure Hybrid File Services.
  • Addressed issue where share contents go offline if remote clients connect over slow links when encryption is enabled and offline caching is disabled for a server share.
  • Addressed issue to generate Remote Desktop Services self-signed certificates to use SHA-2 instead of SHA-1. After this update, any existing self-signed certs in RD Session Host should be updated with SHA-2 certs. However, existing self-signed certs (if any) in Connection Broker and Gateway should be regenerated using the Remote Desktop Management Services (RDMS) UI.
  • Addressed issue to allow a user to set the password for a virtual account.
  • Addressed issue where IIS Automatic Certificate Rebind feature breaks client certificate mapping with active directory by disabling DS Mapper upon renewal of the server certificate. As a result, no user will be able to access the site unless an administrator manually remakes the binding and enables the DS Mapper.
  • Addressed issue where Active Directory returns incorrect active thread count numbers for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol requests. Incorrect thread counts prevent Office 365 from load balancing correctly.
  • Addressed issue to update time zone information.
  • Addressed issue with random crashes on Hyper-V servers when users access Virtual Hard Disk files on Cluster Shared Volumes.
  • Addressed issue that causes file share witnesses stored on a Scale-Out File Server cluster 2012R2 to fail. Event ID for this Error is 1562 and you will get an Error 64 in the Cluster Log for the failed Healthcheck (from RFC 7205769).
  • Addressed issue where, after installing security update MS16-123, administrators cannot access some network drives that are mapped using the Distributed File System Namespace. This lack of accessibility occurs even though User Account Control and EnableLinkedConnections are enabled.
  • Addressed issue where virtual Network File System (NFS) server shares intermittently fail to mount when another NFS share is assigned the same ID in a clustered environment.
  • Addressed issue to add the LiveDump capture feature that will trigger a live kernel dump if requests are stuck for an extended period.
  • Addressed issue where Failover Cluster Manager crashes when connecting to a cluster with a long name (15+ characters). This occurs after .NET 4.6.1 is installed.
  • Addressed issue that crashes Exchange servers whenever a customer installs an Exchange cumulative or security update. Error code: STOP 0x3B
  • Addressed issue that prevents the capture of network traffic when Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics starts and stops the session that monitors traffic in promiscuous mode.
  • Addressed issue where users cannot connect to wireless, proxy, and VPN authentication. The Online Certificate Status Protocol responder service intermittently returns an IIS 500 error when processing client requests. This causes the clients to fail revocation checking and fail authentication to the required service.
  • Addressed issue to provide a maintenance mode for Active Directory domain controllers.
  • Addressed issue where Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) fails to authenticate external users because the ADFS proxy servers time out.

 

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Learn PowerShell, using PowerShell http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/learn-powershell-using-powershell/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/learn-powershell-using-powershell/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:46:18 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131448 PowerShell is more than just a command line shell. It is a configuration management framework that the command line shell is part of, but also a scripting language. It is more powerful than the Windows command prompt but also more intimidating. While it has been there for more than a decade, most Windows users are […]

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PowerShell is more than just a command line shell. It is a configuration management framework that the command line shell is part of, but also a scripting language.

It is more powerful than the Windows command prompt but also more intimidating. While it has been there for more than a decade, most Windows users are probably not very familiar with PowerShell.

This guide provides you with information on learning PowerShell, by using PowerShell. This may sound confusing at first, but it is not really. What I try to do here is to give you commands at hand that help you understand PowerShell commands.

Please note that this is not a complete PowerShell tutorial that teaches you all there is to know about it. It is designed to give you tools at hand that you can use whenever you stumble upon PowerShell commands, or want to do something using PowerShell but don't know how to.

Starting PowerShell

It all begins by starting a new PowerShell command line shell.

  • Regular shell: Tap on the Windows-key, type Powershell.exe, and run the result.
  • Elevated shell: Tap on the Windows-key, type Powershell.exe, hold down the Shift-key and the Ctrl-key, and run the result.

Note: Some commands, the updating of help files for instance, may require elevation.

The first tip: Get-Command

get-command powershell

The command Get-Command lists all PowerShell Cmdlets when you run it. This may not look super useful right away.

If you use Get-Command | Format-List * instead, you get a formatted listing instead that lists, among other things, the help file URI of each command.

If you want all those help file links, use Get-Command | Get-Help | Out-File c:\ps\help.txt. This gets all help topics of all cmdlets, and saves them to the help.txt file on c:\ps.

You may also filter the listing, by using a command such as Get-Command *process. This lists all commands with process in their name (meaning all that manipulate processes).

The second tip: Help

powershell update

First thing you may want to do is update the help file. Not all help topics are available by default, and running the command ensures that they are up to date and available locally.

Run Update-Help, and wait for the process to finish.

Want to force updates and all? run the command update-help -Module * -Force instead.

As far as help commands are concerned, the main one is get-help "cmdlet", e.g. get-help get-command to display information about get-command. Running get-help displays the following for the selected command.

  • Synposis: short bit on what the cmdlet does.
  • Syntax: all parameters and options that are supported.
  • Description: more information on what the cmdlet does.
  • Related Links: Web Links, as well as Cmdlets that may provide additional information.
  • Remarks: some general tips.

You may also display the help of a cmdlet by appending -? to its command, e.g. Update-Help -?.

The command get-help -detailed displays detailed information about the command. Please note that the command does not work on all cmdlets.

The command get-help "command" -full lists all information that is available. This includes examples, notes, inputs and outputs, and more on the screen.

You may display the online version of help for a command by using the -online parameter, e.g. Get-Help Format-List -Online.

The command Get-Help * on the other hand lists all help topics that are available.

To get help about parameters, use the command Get-Help "command" -Parameter "Name", e.g. Get-Help Format-List -Parameter GroupBy.

Last but not least, you may use Get-Help "word" to list topics that include the word you have specified, e.g. Get-Help process.

Tip 3: Examples

powershell examples

Sometimes, all you need is an example to find out more about a cmdlet. You can use the command get-help "cmdlet" -examples, e.g, get-help write-verbose -examples,  to list examples that reveal how the cmdlet is used.

Tip 4: Display help output in extra window

powershell help extra window

To display help content in a new window instead of the one you run the command in, use get-help "command" -ShowWindow, e.g. get-help write-verbose -ShowWindow.

Tip 5: Learn and use aliases

powershell aliases

Aliases help you type commands faster.  The best way to know about aliases is to run get-alias. The command lists them all in the interface.

Extra Tip: Resources

The following online resources are excellent when it comes to learning more about PowerShell:

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5 Things to learn how to do in GNU/Linux via Command-Line http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/5-things-to-learn-how-to-do-in-gnulinux-via-command-line/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/22/5-things-to-learn-how-to-do-in-gnulinux-via-command-line/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:06:04 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131461 GNU/Linux is powerful, very powerful, but truth be told it can also be a daunting experience when trying to learn to utilize the true power behind a GNU/Linux system; the terminal. Using the CLI, or Command Line Interface, can speed up MANY processes and tasks, once you know how to use it and some of […]

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GNU/Linux is powerful, very powerful, but truth be told it can also be a daunting experience when trying to learn to utilize the true power behind a GNU/Linux system; the terminal.

Using the CLI, or Command Line Interface, can speed up MANY processes and tasks, once you know how to use it and some of the basic commands for it. This tutorial is not meant to transform you from scared first timer into Linuxbeard poweruser, but rather to give you your first babysteps into the deeper world of your system.

So, let's just jump right into this. This tutorial is assuming you already have a GNU/Linux system installed, and you can access your terminal with su/sudo permissions. If you DO NOT have sudo permissions at the least, you need to contact your systems administrator and get sudo access otherwise certain parts of this tutorial will be impossible for you to follow.

Wait..wait..what ARE sudo permissions?

sudo means "Superuser do". In other words, it's how you perform an action as an administrator, without actually logging into your root account by using the command 'su'

So, if you have sudo permissions (which unless it's a company machine or something...) you will, and can do sudo things.

1. Changing folders, copying, pasting, moving, and renaming files/folders via CLI

linux command

So, you have a computer, you installed Ubuntu/Debian/Manjaro/Redhat/OpenSUSE/Gentoo or whatever your flavour of choice is, on it. Great! But don't you find it annoying when you have to open your file manager such as Dolphin or Caja, click fifty times to get to the directory you want, then click a bunch more times to copy some files, then navigate to where you want them to go, and click some more to paste them? Yeah, you can use keyboard shortcuts for copy/paste, but you're still clicking like a maniac...So, let's speed this process up!

Open your terminal of choice. Depending on your Desktop Environment this could be one of a few different options, and also located in a few different places...So, dig it out, and open it.

Now, typically you are starting in your home folder...So, let's change that. Let's navigate to a different folder!

Hint: If you ever used MSDOS back in the day, this first command will be either nostalgia, or an annoyance.

cd Documents

Ta-Da! You are now in your Documents folder!

The cd command, which stands for 'change directory' itself can also be quite powerful however. You do not need to be in the parent folder of a directory you wish to enter. For example. I can be inside my Documents folder which is located at /home/username/Documents, and then I can visit an entirely different folder without having to go back to my Home folder. This can be done by typing the exact path you wish to cd into.

For example

cd /home/username/Downloads

This can be typed from ANYWHERE, and you will pop directly into your Downloads folder. This rule applies to all things, from changing directories (cd) to copying/pasting/moving/deleting/creating/executing files as well!

Moving, copying, renaming files

linux shell touch ls

But what now? Well, let's make a file, and then move it somewhere else...

To do this, we are going to use a command called 'touch' that simply creates a blank file. You could use any file you wanted really, but let's just make a blank file for this tutorial, so we aren't moving important things all over the place.

But first, let's see what files are currently already IN our documents folder!

ls

As you can see, the 'ls' command, lists all files and folders in your current directory. And then we will make our blank file...

touch tutorial

And then list the files again...

ls

And as you can see, you now have a file called 'tutorial'

Okay, so we now know how to navigate into directories...But what do we do with files? Let's try a few things. We are going to be utilizing a few different commands here, so I'll break them down before we start.

  • cp - copy
  • mv - move
  • rm - remove

So, let's play with our tutorial file. Make sure you are in the Documents folder

cd /home/username/Documents

Be sure you replace username with your exact CaSe SeNsItIvE username!

Now let's move that file somewhere else:

The syntax for this usually goes as follows for simple commands: COMMAND [LOCATION OF ITEM] [LOCATION DESIRED]

However, if your terminal session is currently inside the folder of the file/item you wish to interact with, you do not need to state the specific source of the root item, only the desired location you wish to copy/move it to.

mv tutorial /home/username/Downloads
cd /home/username/Downloads
ls

You should now find the file inside your Downloads location. Next, we will copy that file back to our Documents folder.

cp tutorial /home/username/Documents

Then remove the one in our Downloads folder:

rm tutorial

And finally cd back to the Documents

cd /home/username/Documents
ls

And voila, our file is back here again, with the other copy gone.

This is the basis of moving things around!

Renaming in Linux

In order to rename a file, you must move it using the mv command, and giving it the new name, or copy it with the cp command and giving it the new name.

Working with folders is slightly different, we must change our command a little. For example:

rm -r /home/username/Documents will remove the entire folder Documents and everything within it.

mv /home/username/stuff will however move the folder 'stuff' and everything within it.

If you ever see the error, "-r not specified; omitting directory" then you must add -r after the initial command, to include other files within the directory. You must also add -r to remove directories.

Creating folders

create folder

The last thing we will cover in this part, is making a new folder. Simply, it is the command 'mkdir'

Using it could be done for example, like:

mkdir stuff

or

mkdir /home/username/stuff

That's it for the basics of file management within the CLI. It may seem like a hassle now, but given time and practice, it becomes much faster and easier to navigate and do system tasks this way. For example.

cp -r ~/stuff2/* ~/Downloads/ && mv ~/Downloads/* ~/Stuff

The above example uses a couple of shortcuts not explained yet, so I'll give a super quick breakdown to show just how fast you can do things.

  • Firstly, ~ can be used to substitute for '/home/username/ to shorten how much you need to type.
  • Secondly, && is used when we want to put multiple commands in one line, via CLI.
  • Lastly, * is used in CLI as a wildcard. It must be used very carefully, as it tells the your system to include EVERYTHING.

Let's assume that the folder "stuff2" has 400 files inside of it. I just moved all of the files out of stuff2, into the downloads folder, and then move everything inside the Downloads folder into the stuff folder. Obviously, I could have skipped a step and just gone directly from the stuff2 to stuff folders, but for example sake, that line took me about 7 seconds to type out, and did what would have taken a minute or two to click around and do!

2. Creating a new user

linux add user

Making a new user is extremely simple via Command Line. Yes, you could click through your Desktop Environment, find the settings, the user accounts area, and click through the procedure of setting up a new user...or....

sudo useradd -m bob

Done. Yes, really, that's it. You could now theoretically log out and change accounts over to 'bob'.

The -m (LOWER CASE!) gives bob a home directory.

useradd makes the user

And obviously bob is the username.

3. Change passwords for a user

change user password linux

So, we made bob. But what if bob wants to add or change a password? Or what if you want to change your password, or change bobs password FOR him?

passwd

passwd is the command we use. It can be used a couple different ways for these examples.

If you are logged in as the user you wish to change the password for, simply enter

passwd and follow the instructions the CLI will give you.

However, if you want to change a different users password, you need to add two things.

sudo passwd bob

sudo, because only an administrator or the user themselves can change someones account (if it's not yours), our passwd command, and the username of the password we are changing.

Simple stuff!

4. Kill processes (And actually kill them dead!...I'm looking at you, Windows Task Manager!

ps aux

So, you were surfing websites that maybe you should avoid in the future, got a popup that won't close, and won't stop playing an 8bit melody of 'It's a small world' repeatedly? No problem, we can just kill Firefox and that's that.

the commands we are going to be using are:

ps aux
kill

The ps aux command is going to list everything running on your machine for you, program and services wise, for ALL users.

putting in the command will spit out a bunch of lines of text for you. One such line, may look like this:

usernam+ 4022 6.3 4.6 2299028 373428 ? Sl 17:33 0:17 /usr/lib/firefox/firefox

The part we want to focus on is called the PID, its the process identfication number. The PID is the FIRST set of numbers you will see on the left.

Once you have figured out which process you want to kill, such as Firefox, and the PID of the process, now we need to kill it.

The command we want to use is the kill command. Most of the time, using it without any options will work fine. However, I've grown to absolutely love the -9 option, with forces the application to kill, forcibly if need be.

So, what we need to do to kill Firefox, is:

kill -9 ####

Replace ##### with the PID of the process and BAM, Firefox for example, is gone!

5. How to check disc space

df linux

Okay, this one is super simple, and requires about...actually, you could have already been done before you even read this far.

df

BAM. Disc space is listed in detail for you. Well, since that was SO easy, you should have no issues, right?

Stay tuned for more CLI tutorials and 'things every GNU/Linux user should know how to do' type tutorials to come!

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Deal of the Week: Linux Power User Bundle (97% off) http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/deal-of-the-week-linux-power-user-bundle-97-off/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/deal-of-the-week-linux-power-user-bundle-97-off/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:09:44 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131443 If you want to get started using Linux, but don't know where to begin, then you may find this week's deal of the week useful for that: The Linux Power User Bundle is a five course bundle that acts pretty much as an introduction to Linux. The following five courses are included in the bundle: […]

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If you want to get started using Linux, but don't know where to begin, then you may find this week's deal of the week useful for that: The Linux Power User Bundle is a five course bundle that acts pretty much as an introduction to Linux.

The following five courses are included in the bundle:

  • Learn Linux in 5 Days & Level Up Your Career -- Get Promoted or Start a New Career w/ Essential Linux Skills
  • Linux Alternatives to Windows Applications -- Learn About the Linux Equivalents to Windows Software, Programs & Applications
  • Linux for Beginners -- Get Familiar with the Linux Operating System & Command Line
  • Linux Command Line Essentials: Become a Linux Power User! -- Quickly & Easily Master the Linux Command Line: Manage Files, Directories & More
  • High Availability for the LAMP Stack -- Make Sure Your Sites & Apps Run Smoothly By Eliminating Points of Failure

Click here to open the Linux Power User Bundle on Ghacks Deals

The bundle is designed for users of all experience levels (with the exception of the last course which requires intermediate experience).

What's interesting about the course is that it includes an introduction to Linux, but also a course that points out Linux programs that you can use for Windows programs. Also, one of the courses covers the command line, so that you can get started using that as well after you are done with the course.

Check out these other Linux related course offers on Ghacks Deals. All are discounted as well.

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Full Last Pass 4.1.42 exploit discovered http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/full-last-pass-4-1-42-exploit-discovered/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/full-last-pass-4-1-42-exploit-discovered/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:09:13 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131423 Tavis Ormandy, a prolific member of Google's Project Zero initiative, revealed that he discovered a new security issue in LastPass 4.1.42 (and maybe earlier). Ormandy revealed that he discovered an exploit, but did not reveal it. Project Zero discoveries are reported to the companies who produce the affected products. The companies have 90 days to […]

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Tavis Ormandy, a prolific member of Google's Project Zero initiative, revealed that he discovered a new security issue in LastPass 4.1.42 (and maybe earlier).

Ormandy revealed that he discovered an exploit, but did not reveal it. Project Zero discoveries are reported to the companies who produce the affected products. The companies have 90 days to react, usually by creating a new product version that they make available publicly to all customers.

The information is scarce at this point in time, but it does paint a grim picture. On Twitter, he said the following:

Oops, new LastPass bug that affects 4.1.42 (Chrome&FF). RCE if you use the "Binary Component", otherwise can steal pwds. Full report on way.

He mentions the latest version of LastPass for Google Chrome and Firefox explicitly (version 4.1.42), and that the exploit can be used for remote code execution, or the stealing of passwords.

lastpass 4.1.42 exploit

Later on he revealed that he has a full working exploit that works without any prompts on Windows, and is just two lines of code. Also, he noted that the exploit could also work on other platforms.

I have a full exploit working without any prompts on Windows, could be made to work on other platforms. Sent details to LastPass.

Full exploit is two lines of javascript. #sigh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

LastPass posted a message on Twitter stating that it is aware of the reported issue, and that it is working on a solution, and has put a workaround in place.

We are aware of the report by @taviso and our team has put a workaround in place while we work on a resolution. Stay tuned for updates.

Soon thereafter, the company posted a second message that the reported issue was resolved.

The issue reported by Tavis Ormandy has been resolved. We will provide additional details on our blog soon.

According to the tweet, no user action is required at this point in time. Note: We will update the news article when the LastPass blog post goes live.

This new LastPass bug is not the first that Tavis Ormandy discovered. Ormandy discovered a remote compromise vulnerability in LastPass back in mid-2016.

In 2015, LastPass detected suspicious activity on the company network, and more recently, in 2017, issues were discovered in the password manager's mobile application for Android.

It is unclear how attackers may exploit the newly discovered security issue. LastPass customers who want to be on the safe side of things should consider disabling the password manager for the time being until the security issue is patched. Those who cannot do that should be very careful when it comes to the sites they visit on the Internet.

Update: LastPass has published its own security report on the issue. According to the company, no "sensitive user data was lost or compromised" to the company's knowledge. This means, that users don't need to change their master passwords, or any site credentials.

All extensions for browsers have been patched, and one issue was fixed on the server-side.

Now You: Do you use a password manager?

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Audacity 2.1.3: official Windows 10 support, last XP version http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/audacity-2-1-3-official-windows-10-support-last-xp-version/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/audacity-2-1-3-official-windows-10-support-last-xp-version/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:54:23 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131415 Audacity 2.1.3, released on March 17, 2017, is the first version of the popular audio editor that supports Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system officially. The audio software can record live audio through microphones or mixers, digitize recordings from other media, and also capture audio when a supported sound card is available. Apart from recording audio, […]

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Audacity 2.1.3, released on March 17, 2017, is the first version of the popular audio editor that supports Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system officially.

The audio software can record live audio through microphones or mixers, digitize recordings from other media, and also capture audio when a supported sound card is available.

Apart from recording audio, you may also edit audio streams in a variety of ways using Audacity. This includes among other things basic operations such as cutting or deleting, or adding effects to the stream.

Audacity 2.1.3

audacity 2.1.3

Probably the most important feature addition of Audacity 2.1.3 is official support for Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. Windows 10 users won't receive internal PortAudio errors anymore when built-in audio devices are enabled. This was achieved by upgrading PortAudio to r1966.

Audacity is a cross-platform application. Users on Mac OS X benefit from better Trackpad and Magic Mouse horizontal scroll support.

(Windows) Windows 10 is now supported (there should be no "Internal PortAudio Error" or failure to find any devices as long as the built-in audio devices are enabled).

(macOS) We now support Trackpad and Magic Mouse horizontal scroll without SHIFT key and Trackpad pinch and expand to zoom at the pointer.

Windows XP users need to note that Audacity 2.1.3 is the last version that officially supports the operating system. This does not necessarily mean that future versions of Audacity won't run on Windows XP machines, but it could very well be the case.

All users benefit from memory leak fixes; Audacity should handle memory usage better.

As far as features are concerned, there are plenty:

  1. New scrubbing features (Scrub Ruler, Scrub Toolbar. The latter is off by default, enable under View > Toolbars).
  2. New effects and generators (new distortion effect, Click Track generator renamed to Rhythm Track, new generator for Sample Data Import).
  3. New Timer Record features.

Audacity is digitally signed now on Mac OS X and Windows (not on XP). Go through the list of known issues before you start the update, for instance by checking for updates via Help > Check for Updates.

The list is -- very -- long, and can be quite intimidating. One option that you have is to run a search for your operating system on the page, e.g. Windows, or more specific XP, to get all issues listed that affect the system.

Also, you need to go through the listing a second time to check program features that you use actively (e.g. Playback and Recording).

You can download the latest version of Audacity from the official project website.

Now You: Do you use Audacity, another audio editor, or none at all?

 

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Windows 10 KB4015438 fixes crashes and hangs http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/windows-10-kb4015438-fixes-crashes-and-hangs/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/21/windows-10-kb4015438-fixes-crashes-and-hangs/#comments Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:18:53 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131412 The new cumulative update for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) KB4015438 patches two issues introduced by last week's Patch Day. This raises the version of the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 to 14393.969. The KB4015438 update seems to fix two issues introduced last week that affected some users of the operating system after […]

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The new cumulative update for Windows 10 version 1607 (Anniversary Update) KB4015438 patches two issues introduced by last week's Patch Day.

This raises the version of the Anniversary Update version of Windows 10 to 14393.969.

The KB4015438 update seems to fix two issues introduced last week that affected some users of the operating system after devices were updated with last week's security updates.

The first issue caused programs that use Microsoft MPEG-2 handling libraries to crash (e.g. Windows DVD Player). The second issue listed by Microsoft affected customers with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled who "might experience a deadlock" according to Microsoft.

Windows 10 KB4015438 fixes crashes and hangs

windows 10 kb4015438

According to Microsoft's Windows 10 version 1607 and Windows Server 2016 update log, KB4015438 fixes the following issues:

Addressed a known issue with KB4013429 that caused Windows DVD Player (and 3rd party apps that use Microsoft MPEG-2 handling libraries) to crash.

Addressed a known issue with KB4013429, that some customers using Windows Server 2016 and Windows 10 1607 Client with Switch Embedded Teaming (SET) enabled might experience a deadlock or when changing the physical adapter’s link speed property. This issue is most commonly seen as a DPC_WATCHDOG_VIOLATION or when verifier is enabled a VRF_STACKPTR_ERROR is seen in the Memory dump.

KB4013429 refers to the previous cumulative update of Windows 10's Anniversary Update version.

Woody notes over on InfoWorld that Microsoft has yet to patch an Internet Explorer bug that breaks Dynamics CRM.

Günter Born notes on the other hand that the cumulative update does not fix the system restore no longer working issue that some users experience after installing January's KB3213986 update.

KB4015438 is already available through Windows Update. You can run a manual check for the update by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.

If you prefer to download the update manually, point your web browser to Microsoft's Update Catalog. There you find the cumulative update listed for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016.

The 64-bit versions of the update have a size of about 1 Gigabyte, the 32-bit version about 560 Megabyte.

Now You: Do you experience any issues on Windows 10 right now?

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Google removing Close other tabs, Close tabs to the right from Chrome http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/google-removing-close-other-tabs-close-tabs-to-the-right-from-chrome/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/google-removing-close-other-tabs-close-tabs-to-the-right-from-chrome/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 19:10:45 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131403 Google plans to remove the tab context menu items Close other tabs, and Close tabs to the right, from the company's Chrome web browser. Google made the decision to remove the two context menu options years ago, according to the bug on the official Chromium site, but never got it done up until now. The […]

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Google plans to remove the tab context menu items Close other tabs, and Close tabs to the right, from the company's Chrome web browser.

Google made the decision to remove the two context menu options years ago, according to the bug on the official Chromium site, but never got it done up until now.

The company cites lack of use as the reason for removal. Additionally, the two context menu options add complexity too Chrome, and add additional scanning time "due to the menu length increase".

Google removing Close other tabs, Close tabs to the right from Chrome

chrome close other tabs tabs right

Usage stats, which Google revealed in September 2016 highlight the relative usage of each context menu item of the browser:

  • Duplicate: 23.21%
  • Reload: 22.74%
  • Pin / Unpin tab: 13.12%
  • Close tab: 9.68%
  • Reopen closed tab: 8.92%
  • New tab: 6.63%
  • Close tabs to the right: 6.06%
  • Mute tab: 5.38%
  • Close other tabs: 2.20%
  • Unmute tab: 1.41%
  • Bookmark all tabs: 0.64%

Relative in this context means the percentage of all context menu actions by Chrome users. Close tabs to the right is listed there with 6.06% of all actions, and Close other tabs with 2.20% of all actions.

This makes it a more popular action than mute tab, and less than 0.60% less popular than new tab. Chrome users have other means to spawn new tabs or close them which may explain the relatively low usage stats for those actions.

Even close tab, and reopen closed tabs, are not too far away when it comes to relative usage of the actions.

It appears that the removal has been assigned in February, and that Chromium and Chrome will see the removal of the two options in the near future.

Side note: Google plans to remove the bookmark all tabs option as well from the browser. It is unclear however when this is going to happen, as no date has been given yet.

Google notes that you still have an option to close multiple tabs. Simply hold down the Shift-key, click on all tabs that you want to remove, and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-W to close the selected tabs.

Now You: Are you affected by the change?

It is interesting to note that Google thinks that these options are not used enough to keep them in Chrome

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Turn off most Windows 10 Ads with a double-click, or manually http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/turn-off-most-windows-10-ads-with-a-double-click/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/turn-off-most-windows-10-ads-with-a-double-click/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:07:46 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131391 The following guide offers instructions on turning of all ads on Windows 10, and most of them with a simple double-click. Not all Windows 10 users have seen advertisement yet on devices that run the operating system, but the number is certainly growing. The main reason why it is growing is that Microsoft is pushing […]

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The following guide offers instructions on turning of all ads on Windows 10, and most of them with a simple double-click.

Not all Windows 10 users have seen advertisement yet on devices that run the operating system, but the number is certainly growing.

The main reason why it is growing is that Microsoft is pushing what it calls suggestions or tips to more and more places on the operating system.

What started with pre-installed third-party apps and suggestions in the Start Menu, has grown to ads in other locations such as the lockscreen, the File Explorer, and the taskbar.

Microsoft does not differentiate between systems that were upgraded for free to Windows 10, and bought Windows 10 licenses.

Good news is that you can turn off most ads on Windows 10.

Turn off most Windows 10 Ads with a double-click

turn off ads windows 10

The following two Registry files let you turn ads on or off on Windows 10 devices. Please note that the files allow you to turn off most ads but not all. The reason for that is that some features cannot be turned off using the Registry Editor.

The second part of this guide lists all locations, and provides you with instructions on how to disable ads for these locations as well.

First, the download link: disable-windows10-ads.zip

Here is what the turn-off-ads-windows-10.reg file does:

  1. Turn off File Explorer ads.
  2. Disable Start Menu suggestions.
  3. Disable "Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use Windows".
  4. Turn off Game Bar tips.
  5. Optional: Turn off Lockscreen
  6. Optional: Turn off Cortana

Note: I suggest you create a backup of the Windows Registry before you run the files, or the Windows system as a whole.

To use the file, simply double-click on it. Accept the UAC prompt in the next step of the process, and confirm the Registry Editor warning message as well.

You can open the file in any text editor to take a look at it before you run it.

Disable Windows 10 ads: the manual way

As I mentioned earlier, it is not possible to disable Windows 10 from showing ads in some locations as you cannot control the functionality using the Registry Editor.

The following instructions offer manual ways to disable Windows 10 ads. This includes instructions for ads that you cannot turn off using the Registry.

Disable Start Menu Suggestions

occasionally show suggestions in start

We talked about turning off Start Menu ads before here on Ghacks. These suggestions are listing applications for the most part near the top of the start menu. This included in the past free apps or games, but also commercial applications or games.

One of the issues that you may have with the listing is that it is near the top. This means that it uses valuable space there that your program listings could fill instead if it would not be there.

Microsoft started to show suggestions to use Microsoft Edge in the very same location recently (for instance stating that you can stream videos longer with Edge).

To turn them off do the following:

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to Personalization > Start.
  3. Locate "occasionally show suggestions in Start", and toggle the option so that it reads off.

Disable Lock Screen ads

windows lockscreen ads

The Windows 10 lock screen may feature two different types of ads. First, you may see wallpaper ads. Microsoft showed a Tomb Raider wallpaper for instance there at one point in time. It looked really nice, but it was still an ad. Microsoft may also display suggestions and tips there.

You have two options here. First, disable the lock screen entirely. Or, and that is probably better, switch to a local wallpaper image instead.

  • Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  • Go to Personalization > Lock screen.
  • Select Picture or Slideshow under Background (not Windows Spotlight).
  • Also, toggle "Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen" to off.

Get Office, and Get Skype

get office

Get Office and Get Skype are two apps that may be installed on your device. The first advertises Microsoft Office 365, the latter the Skype application.

If you don't use Office 365 or Skype, or use it already, you may want to uninstall those applications as they serve no purpose. Additionally, they may interfere with the system in critical ways. The Get Office application blocked System Restore from working correctly for instance some time ago

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Select System > Apps & Features if you run Windows 10 version 1607 or earlier.
  3. Select Apps > Apps & Features if you run Windows 10 version 1703 or later.
  4. Search for "Get" using the search form.
  5. Click on Get Office or Get Skype, and select Uninstall to remove the application from the device.

Disable Windows 10 taskbar nags, welcome experience, and sign suggestions

windows welcome suggestions

Windows 10 may display suggestions, tips or tricks directly on the taskbar. Microsoft did so in the past to advertise Microsoft Edge for instance, showing that it is more secure than Firefox, or that it has a better battery life than Google Chrome.

We talked about the taskbar nags on Windows 10 here already.

Windows 10 may also display a welcome screen on start after updates, and show what's new or suggested when you sign in.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Go to System > Notifications & Actions.
  3. Locate Get tips, tricks, and suggestions as you use windows, and toggle the feature to off.
  4. Locate Show me the Windows welcome experience after updates, and occasionally when I sign in to highlight what's new and suggested, and toggle the feature to off as well.

Windows Ink Workspace suggestions

windows ink suggestions

If you use the Ink Workspace of Windows 10, you may have seen application suggestions there already. These work similarly to the Start Menu suggestions, only that they show up when you open the workspace, and that they are powered by a different setting.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Switch to Devices > Pen & Windows Ink.
  3. Locate show recommended app suggestions, and turn the feature off.

Disable File Explorer ads

sync provider notifications

The most recent location where ads appeared on Windows 10 is File Explorer. The built-in file browser showed an ad for Office 365 to some users directly in the center of File Explorer.

Even worse, there was no option to turn the ad off completely, as you could only select "not now" when it was displayed. This suggests that it will be spawned again at a later point in time.

We talked about File Explorer ads here before. Do the following to turn them off:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Select File > Change folder and search options.
  3. Switch to the View tab.
  4. Scroll down until you find show sync provider notifications.
  5. Uncheck the option to turn off File Explorer ads.

Other things you may want to consider

There are a couple of other things that I'd like to mention. First, that the operating system's live tile functionality for application icons in Start may display ads. You can turn off live tiles with a right-click on the tile, and selecting more > turn live tile off. Some apps can be uninstalled as well if you prefer that.

You can also uninstall apps that shipped with Windows 10 by default to get rid of them.

Or, and that is also an option, install an application like Classic Shell to replace the entire Start Menu (and get rid of any ads this way).

Closing Words

Microsoft increased the locations that it displays what it calls suggestions or tips slowly but gradually. It seems likely that we will see even more ads further down the line. I will update the guide whenever new ad locations become known.

If you know of another location, let me know and I'll check and update the article asap.

Now You: What's your take on the whole Windows 10 advertisement situation?

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Top IFTTT recipes that improve your Android device http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/top-ifttt-recipes-improve-android/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/top-ifttt-recipes-improve-android/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:07:38 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131374 IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, is a service that may automate a lot of things related to PCs, online and your mobile devices for you. Basically, what it allows you to do, is create so called recipes that run automated actions when an event occurs. Events can be nearly anything, from you […]

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IFTTT, which stands for If This Then That, is a service that may automate a lot of things related to PCs, online and your mobile devices for you.

Basically, what it allows you to do, is create so called recipes that run automated actions when an event occurs. Events can be nearly anything, from you arriving at work over new email messages, or a new post on your favorite tech blog.

IFTTT supports Android devices so that you may use existing recipes on Android, or create your own. You do need to install the IFTTT application for Android for that, and register an account on IFTTT, but that is all that is required.

The following article looks at some of the recipes that are already available for Android. The recipes are sorted into the groups WiFi, Muting / Silent Mode, and Other.

Top IFTTT recipes for Android

ifttt android

WiFi

The following two recipes are examples of what IFTTT can do to optimize wireless connections on your device. Recipes are available to connect or disconnect from WiFi networks based on the location, but also on other parameters such as the day or time, or certain events.

Turn off WiFi when you leave home to save power -- The recipe turns off the wireless connection of the Android device whenever IFTTT's application notices that you left home. You do need to set up your home location during the configuration of the recipe.

Automatically turn your Android device's WiFi on when you get home -- This recipe will turn on the wireless connection on the device when you get home. Location may use cellular, GPS networks or WiFi to determine the location. Simply pick your home location on a map to configure the recipe.

Muting / Silent Mode

The following recipes change the device's mute state or enable modes such as silent mode.

Mute your Android phone when you arrive at work -- This is a simple recipe that works similarly to the ones described above. You need to set up your work location during configuration, and will notice that your device gets muted automatically whenever you arrive at work.

Unmute your phone when you leave work -- This is the companion recipe for the mute when you arrive at work recipe. It unmutes your device when you leave work.

Automatically mute your Android phone when you leave home -- The recipe mutes your Android phone when you leave your home. You need to set up your home during configuration.

Automatically unmute your Android phone when you get home -- Self explanatory. Unmutes the device when you reach your home.

Mute your Android phone at bedtime -- If you mute your phone whenever you go to bed -- I do because even a vibrating phone wakes me up easily -- then you may find this recipe useful. It mutes your phone at a specific time of the day. Works best if you go to bed around the same time every day.

Unmute your Android phone's ringer every morning -- The companion recipe for the one above. Disables the mute status of the ringer in the morning at a specific time.

Other

Call Twice: override mute on second call for select VIPs -- Configure your Android device to unmute automatically when you receive a phone call from a very important person. The next time that person calls, the ringer is on so that you may catch it. Note that this will turn on the ringer for all phone calls.

Work time log using WiFi network -- This recipe logs the time you spend at work.

Creating your own Android IFTTT recipes

You can create your own Android recipes on IFTTT if none of the existing recipes offer what you are looking for.

Head over to the create page on IFTTT to get started. The whole process is done in six easy steps. First, with the Android device as the service.

  1. Choose a service: select Android as the service.
  2. Choose the trigger: IFTTT supports eight triggers currently:
    1. Connects to a Bluetooth device.
    2. Disconnects from a Bluetooth device.
    3. Connects to any WiFi network.
    4. Disconnects from any WiFi network.
    5. Connects or disconnects from any WiFi network.
    6. Connects to a specific WiFi network.
    7. Disconnects from a specific WiFi network.
    8. Connects or disconnects from a specific WiFi network.
  3. Choose action service: select the desired action from the list of supported services, e.g. send an SMS to someone, log the connection change using Google Sheets, mute your device, play music, or update the device wallpaper.
  4. Choose action: actions that are supported by the selected service are listed here.
  5. Complete action fields: if further configuration is required, do it here. For instance, if you select the mute action, you may set vibrate to on or off.
  6. Review: review the recipe, and click on finish afterwards.

You don't need to select the Android device as the service in the first step. You may also select other services, for instance location, weather, or Fitbit, and pick the Android device only as the action service in the third step.

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How to lower the WhatsApp data usage http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/how-to-lower-the-whatsapp-data-usage/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/20/how-to-lower-the-whatsapp-data-usage/#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 06:51:21 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131369 The following guide provides you with instructions on lowering the data usage of the popular messaging application WhatsApp. Created for Android devices, you can use the guide if you run WhatsApp on another mobile operating system as well. Applications that you run regularly on your mobile devices can use a considerable amount of data when […]

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The following guide provides you with instructions on lowering the data usage of the popular messaging application WhatsApp.

Created for Android devices, you can use the guide if you run WhatsApp on another mobile operating system as well.

Applications that you run regularly on your mobile devices can use a considerable amount of data when they are running.

Many apps continue to run in the background once they have been started on a device. This is certainly true for most messaging applications, as they check regularly for new messages and other content to notify you the moment it is detected.

How to lower the WhatsApp data usage

whatsapp lower data usage

First thing you need to do is verify WhatsApp's data usage on your device. How that is done depends largely on your device. On my Xiaomi Mi4c, I select Security > Data Usage to find out about the data usage of the app. You may find data usage in a different location on your device, for instance under Networks > Data Usage.

If you cannot find that option, or don't have it, then you may need to install a third-party data tracking application. You can use My Data Manager for that for instance. I suggest you run it at least a week before you check WhatsApp's data usage during that time.

Once you have the number, you need to decide whether it is too high, or acceptable. If you think it is too high, you can modify some WhatsApp settings to lower the application's data usage.

  1. Select WhatsApp > Menu > Settings.
  2. Select the Data Usage menu when the Settings page opens.

There you find the following options to lower WhatsApp's data usage:

Configure media auto-download. You may configure this independently for mobile data, WiFi data, and roaming.

The default setting downloads photos when on mobile, all attachments when connected to a Wifi, and nothing at all when roaming.

To lower the usage, consider blocking all downloads from being processed automatically on mobile and / or on WiFi. The latter depends on whether the wireless networks that you connect the mobile device to are limited in regards to bandwidth.

Note that you may still download any attachment manually. WhatsApp displays a placeholder for attachments that have not been auto-downloaded by the app. A tap on the placeholder downloads the attachments to your device.

Low data usage. This setting enables the low data usage mode during WhatsApp calls. Please note that this goes hand in hand with a reduction in call quality. If you use WhatsApp for calls regularly, you may want to test the setting to see if you can live with the quality reduction, and whether reducing it has a big enough impact on the data usage of the app to make it worthwhile.

Chat Backup settings are another thing that you may want to check. While not configured by default to send data to a cloud provider, WhatsApp may be configured to do that.

Go to Menu > Settings > Chat > Chat Backup to get started. You find the "back up to Google Drive" option on the page. If it is enabled, consider disabling it as WhatsApp will transfer data to Google Drive regularly when it is enabled.

You may change other preferences there, for instance so that videos are not backed up to Google Drive, or the frequency of backups.

Closing Words

The settings that WhatsApp provides may help reduce the application's data usage. You may do your part as well, for instance by running WhatsApp only occasionally and not 24/7. While that may mean receiving some messages a bit later, it may have a positive impact on bandwidth usage.

Now You: Do you worry about mobile data usage?

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Where are those Anonymous Firefox add-on ratings coming from? http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/19/where-are-those-anonymous-firefox-add-on-ratings-coming-from/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/19/where-are-those-anonymous-firefox-add-on-ratings-coming-from/#comments Sun, 19 Mar 2017 14:44:43 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131313 If you are a Firefox user and pay attention to user reviews and ratings on the Firefox add-ons website, you may have noticed an increase in anonymous ratings. The ratings are left by anonymous user "random six character string", and only have a rating but no review itself. This in itself is strange for veteran […]

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If you are a Firefox user and pay attention to user reviews and ratings on the Firefox add-ons website, you may have noticed an increase in anonymous ratings.

The ratings are left by anonymous user "random six character string", and only have a rating but no review itself.

This in itself is strange for veteran Firefox users, considering that one of the requirements for leaving reviews was leaving a comment up until now.

One example where you can see the new influx of reviews is the Adblock Plus reviews page on Mozilla AMO.

Anonymous Firefox add-on ratings

adblock plus review

As you can see on the screenshot above, the first three ratings have been left by anonymous users. You can click on the username to find out more about that user.

No matter how many you check, you will notice that they have all been created on the same day the rating was left.

So where are those anonymous user accounts coming from? Webmasters may have seen similar activities by anonymous and random users leaving comments on sites, and one fear that users and add-on authors may have that this is a spam campaign.

The first thing that comes to mind is spam, probably because of that.  This is not the case however. According to this discussion on Mozilla's official Add-ons forum, anonymous ratings come from users who run Firefox mobile.

This is because the new mobile site was recently launched. You can test it yourself by visiting AMO on a mobile device, or scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking on "View Mobile Site". You'll notice the new rating UI lets you submit a star rating without a written review. This is intentional. We think this will encourage more people to rate add-ons, and will reduce the instances of written reviews that don't say much or end up being deleted because of the way they're worded.

This is confirmed on the Mozilla Addons Server Github page. It confirms that blank reviews will come to the desktop site as well.

We're supporting blank reviews now. The recent ones come from the mobile site, which is the first one to support this. The desktop site will support it in the future as well.

firefox mobile ratings

Firefox users on mobile devices still need a Firefox account to leave reviews, but the requirement for leaving a comment / explanation has been removed by Mozilla.

It is unclear why Mozilla's site shows these ratings as anonymous, as opposed to listing the Firefox account username. One explanation may be that you only need to set an email address and password during registration, so that there is no username for a particular user at that point in time.

As far as I see it, there are two issues with these reviews. First, that they look like spam, and second, that they don't add any value besides adding a rating.

Mozilla's main idea behind lifting the requirement to leave a comment when rating an add-on is that it does away with meaningless reviews by users who did not want to write anything but still rate an add-on.

The fact that these are now replaced by empty reviews that clutter the review listing refutes that argument.

It would be easy enough to solve part of the issue right away though, as Mozilla would only have to find a way to remove empty reviews from the reviews listing.

Now You: Do you read reviews before you install add-ons?

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The best Amazon price trackers in 2017 http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/19/best-amazon-price-trackers-2017/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/19/best-amazon-price-trackers-2017/#comments Sun, 19 Mar 2017 08:15:43 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131305 It is sometimes difficult to find the right time to make a purchase. If you have a budget for instance, you may want to make sure that the purchase is within its limits. You may also set upper limits for certain items even if your budget would allow you to pay a higher price for […]

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It is sometimes difficult to find the right time to make a purchase. If you have a budget for instance, you may want to make sure that the purchase is within its limits.

You may also set upper limits for certain items even if your budget would allow you to pay a higher price for it but you don't need the item right away, or if you don't need it at all but would like to have it anyway if the price is right.

This is where price tracking and notification services come into play. The following guide looks at services that enable you to track item prices on Amazon.

Since there are dozens of them out there, we have looked at those for you and list the best ones below so that you can concentrate on those and don't have to sift through even more to find the one suitable for you.

The best Amazon price trackers in 2017

Before we list the services, we would like to list the requirements that we had for them:

  1. Service must track at least pricing on Amazon.com, preferably also on local Amazon stores.
  2. Service must offer option to track pricing and inform you about changes.
  3. Service must let you track any product on Amazon, not only a selection.
  4. Service must not be limited to a single category (e.g. games).
  5. Optional: browser extensions or mobile apps.

Amazon Price Tracker comparison table

CamelCamelCamel Keepa PricePirates The Tracktor
Stores Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, UK, US Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, UK, US Germany, US Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK, US
Signup required no yes no yes
Tracks Amazon, Marketplace Amazon, Marketplace Amazon, Marketplace Amazon, Marketplace
Price history lifetime lifetime none lifetime
Addons Firefox, Chrome, Bookmarklet Firefox, Chrome Chrome not right now
Mobile Apps none none iOs, Android none
Other communication none Messenger bot desktop program none
Notifications Email, Twitter Email, Twitter, Facebook, Push in program Email
Other features Amazon wishlist importer API tracks eBay as well

CamelCamelCamel

camelcamelcamel

The long standing service is available as a version for the Web, and as browser extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox.

You may use most of the sites functionality, including tracking individual items, without registration. To get started, pick one of the available stores (nine in total right now), and run a search.

You may click on an item to get the price history for it displayed on the screen. There you may enable email or Twitter price drop notifications (without registration), and check the last five price changes.

CamelCamelCamel tracks Amazon and marketplace (new and used) price changes automatically, and creates a personalized URL for any item that you track.

Account registration offers additional benefits, such as managing all items that you track on a single page.

Keepa

keepa

Keepa works in many regards just like CamelCamelCamel. One difference is that you need to create an account to use the search, and start tracking items.

The service lists the price history of the last three months when you open a product page, and lists the eBay price as well if available. The latter is quite useful, as you may find better prices on eBay at times.

You can track Amazon and marketplace prices individually, and even track multiple Amazon locales at the same time.

The feature may be useful if you make purchases in other Amazon stores occasionally for instance.

Keepa may notify you via email, Twitter or Facebook.

The Tracktor

thetracktor

The Tracktor supports fewer Amazon stores than the two services above. It requires registration, and lets you track the pricing of Amazon and marketplace articles once you have created an account.

You can set up tracking for Amazon and marketplace items individually, but will only receive notifications via email and no other means.

It works well, but is more bare bones than the other services.

PricePirates

PricePirates is available as a desktop program for Windows and OS X, as a mobile app for Android and iOS, and as a Chrome browser extension.

The service allows you to track prices on Amazon Germany and US, eBay, and a couple other shopping sites.

It works different to the services mentioned above. You enter a product name in the interface and run a search for it.

You may then add these products to your watchlist, to receive information once the price of the product drops.

Noteable mentions

Invisible Hand

invisiblehand

Invisible Hand is a service that works a bit different. It is not a price tracking service, but a price comparison service.

You need to install the service's browser extension or iOS application, and will get information on better prices as you browse supported shopping sites.

You may also run searches using it, and get a list of the best prices for items that you are interested in.

Pricejump

pricejump

Pricejump is a different kind of price tracking application. Instead of monitoring products for you on a constant basis, it checks the price of an Amazon product against the price of the item on other supported stores.

While that makes it less of a price tracking service, it may still be useful to you before you make a purchase as it enables you to quickly check whether the Amazon price is indeed the lowest price.

The service is available as web version, Apple iOS application, and as browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Other

The following is just a link list of services that enable you to track items on Amazon as well:

If you are interested in creating your own price monitoring service, check out this article on using IFTTT and ScraperWiki for that.

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Riot Isolator: privacy and security tool for Windows http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/18/riot-isolator/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/18/riot-isolator/#comments Sat, 18 Mar 2017 09:33:51 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131296 Riot Isolator is a free multi-purpose security and privacy tool for devices running Microsoft's Windows operating system. You may install the program on a Windows machine, or run it without installation. Please note that Riot Isolator requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.x or higher. The program interface itself lists the four main options Eraser, Toolbox, […]

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Riot Isolator is a free multi-purpose security and privacy tool for devices running Microsoft's Windows operating system.

You may install the program on a Windows machine, or run it without installation. Please note that Riot Isolator requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 4.x or higher.

The program interface itself lists the four main options Eraser, Toolbox, Unlocker and Network. Three of those, Eraser, Unlocker and Network, are single purpose tools.

Toolbox on the other hand lists ten additional tools that you may make use of.

Riot Isolator review

root isolator

Eraser and Unlocker work exactly as you'd expect them to. Drag and drop files or folders on to the target icon, and either have them deleted securely from the computer system (Eraser), or unlocked so that you can process them.

The Eraser feature overwrites the data that you dragged and dropped on to the icon twice, but does not differentiate between platter-based hard drives and Solid State Drives. It is up to you to make sure that you only drag files from platter-based hard drives, as files from SSDs won't be erased securely due to the nature of how data is stored and processed.

Network logs the TCP connections within the last eleven minutes when activated. It is not a network on/off switch, but displays a graph when selected that shows the number of TCP connections instead.

Toolbox is the heart of the application. It includes the following ten tools:

  1. Anti-screenshot tool.
  2. Anti-keylogger tool.
  3. Anti-webcam tool.
  4. Anti-exploit functionality.
  5. Volume protection.
  6. Drive Eraser.
  7. Live report.
  8. Recycle Bin cleaner.
  9. Presentation mode.
  10. Realtime recognize.

Some tools, like the anti-keylogger tool, let you toggle their functionality with two clicks. Others require explanation to understand what they are designed for.

Anti-exploit for instance may prevent the spoofing of file extensions, and detect process executions in memory. The spoofing protection detects two commonly used methods of spoofing file extensions on Windows, and will kill processes that make use of it.

The detection of process executions in memory rates the risk level of these executions.

Volume protection may be used to block new USB volumes on the device, and to make all USB volumes read only.

Live Report enables limited report functionality online. I could not get this to work on the device I tested the program on. It supposedly lets you access information such as an activity monitor, module overview, or screenshots, online.

Presentation mode locks down the computer by focusing on a single process / program window.

Realtime recognize finally provides you with information on runtime about the packing tools that executable files use on the system.

riot isolator

The interface of Riot Isolator can best be described as messy and compact. Settings are for instance displayed on multiple pages with no option to manage them all on a single page.

The same is true for the toolbox. You only see if you have enabled one of the "anti" options when you select that option in the toolbox.

The tools work well on the other hand, at least the ones that I ran tests for. The anti-screenshot tool blackens the screen when it is enabled. This is true not only for Windows' own copy to clipboard option, but also third-party screenshot tools.

Closing Words

Riot Isolator is a powerful program with a messy interface. While you will find your way around in the program after clicking through all the options, the fact that the state of the tools is not shown is a serious usability issue.

All in all though, this is a handy tool to have at your disposal.

Now You: Do you find a multi-purpose program like Riot Isolator useful?

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Setting up CSF Firewall front end for IPTables http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/18/setting-up-csf-firewall-front-end-for-iptables/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/18/setting-up-csf-firewall-front-end-for-iptables/#comments Sat, 18 Mar 2017 06:55:32 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131293 Firewalls, commonly underused by home users yet probably one of the most important aspects of securing your machine; ever. Windows users have a HUGE array of options in front of them, but GNU/Linux isn’t quite as flexible in terms of giving you a thousand and one options. Thankfully, there is the powerful IPTables firewall built […]

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Firewalls, commonly underused by home users yet probably one of the most important aspects of securing your machine; ever.

Windows users have a HUGE array of options in front of them, but GNU/Linux isn’t quite as flexible in terms of giving you a thousand and one options.

Thankfully, there is the powerful IPTables firewall built into most systems. However, IPTables can be a daunting task for people to configure and learn how to use, thankfully there are front ends and other tools that can make setting up a very powerful firewall MUCH easier for the end-user.

CSF, or ConfigServer and Firewall, is one such IPTables frontend, and is an absolute powerhouse in itself while still maintaining a much easier setup.

MANY Distros come with firewall GUI frontends included in the system, but for the odd one that doesn’t, or if you are setting up a firewall on a text only system such as a VPS, or you just have decided to do away with graphical environments as a whole; this is for you.

For this, I am setting up CSF on one of my VPS, through a text only environment via SSH, so it’s absolutely required that you have some basic proficiency and understanding of how to use a terminal environment on your system if you wish to follow the exact steps I will be taking.

Note: You could do the vast majority of this if not all of it using a graphical environment, but I personally still would prefer to do it via command-line because I find it much faster to do simple things like extractions, copy pasting, text editing etc via terminal; but the choice is ultimately up to you. Just know that this tutorial is strictly text.

The Installation of CSF

CSF Homepage

The first step is to download the tarball from the CSF website https://configserver.com/cp/csf.html

The first thing you’ll want to do is navigate to whatever folder you intend to download CSF to as root.

  • su
  • cd /usr/src

Then download the tarball

  • wget https://download.configserver.com/csf.tgz

And then we need to extract the tarball

  • tar -xzf csf.tgz

Move into the new directory

  • cd csf

And run the installation script

  • sh install.sh

Next, we need to check if our system has all of the required IPTables modules installed. Some of these may not be installed but so long as the following script does not give a -Fatal Error- then you are good to go.

  • perl /usr/local/csf/bin/csftest.pl

You should hopefully get a message like this: “RESULT: csf should function on this server”

In the scenario where you get fatal errors, this likely means that IPTables is either not installed, or not started / loaded into the kernel; look up the documentation / forums / search engine results for installing or starting IPTables for your distro of choice.

With all that being said, CSF is now installed! However, it’s not actually -DOING- anything yet, so, we need to configure it.

To do this, we simply need to edit one file, albeit a long file, it’s fairly well commented and documented, and relatively straight forward if you have any knowledge of networking or how the internet and your system work together. For those of you who have no idea what ports are for example, this may be a bit above your head and I highly recommend checking out some articles on the topic before you delve in deeper.

Configuring CSF

Let’s get started by opening the CSF configuration file with your favourite text editor, I personally use Nano for things like this.

  • nano /etc/csf/csf.conf

The first thing you will see is the following, and it is absolutely essential that you do not play with this setting until we are completely done!

###############################################################################

# SECTION:Initial Settings

###############################################################################

# Testing flag - enables a CRON job that clears iptables incase of

# configuration problems when you start csf. This should be enabled until you

# are sure that the firewall works - i.e. incase you get locked out of your

# server! Then do remember to set it to 0 and restart csf when you're sure

# everything is OK. Stopping csf will remove the line from /etc/crontab

#

# lfd will not start while this is enabled

TESTING = "1"

Basically keeping this on (1=on 0=off) will ensure you don’t lock yourself out of your system by misconfiguring your firewall. Once you are confident everything is working as it’s supposed to, you can disable this.

There are some settings next referring to system logging, I recommend you simply scroll past them as they are set fine for most cases by default, and scroll until you see:

# SECTION:IPv4 Port Settings

CSF by default will be aware of all ports currently being used, and will adjust itself accordingly. For example, on this VPS I host a number of services from VoIP servers to gameservers for a few gaming clan clients of mine, and CSF has sorted that out for me.

# Allow incoming TCP ports

TCP_IN = "10011,20,21,22,25,53,25639,80,110,143,443,465,587,993,995,9987,8080,8181"

# Allow outgoing TCP ports

TCP_OUT = "25639,10011,20,21,22,25,53,80,110,113,443,587,993,995,8080,8081,9987"

# Allow incoming UDP ports

UDP_IN = "20,21,25639,10011,53,9987"

# Allow outgoing UDP ports

# To allow outgoing traceroute add 33434:33523 to this list

UDP_OUT = "20,21,53,25639,113,10011,9987,123"

As you can see, a number of TCP and UDP ports are already being granted passage through the firewall. You may want to double check any games, servers or services you run for what ports they use, and ensure that these ports are all listed accordingly.

If you are unsure of what ports you require open, you can check with the following commands:

  • netstat -vatn
  • netstat –listen
  • netstat -lntu

And look for things such as

  • tcp 0 0 0.0.0.0:8081 0.0.0.0:* LISTEN

In this example, port 8081 is being listened on, so I need port 8081 open.

I will add some links at the bottom of this article for more indepth focus on this for those who need it.

After you are all set on setting up the IPv4 ports, you will want to make sure Ipv6 is also taken care of if you utilize it on yout system, much in the same fashion.

After that, you theoretically could simply start CSF and be good to go, however I highly recommend reading through the rest of the configuration file and changing anything you feel needed; ESPECIALLY if you are setting this up on any kind of server environment. CSF has some pretty awesome anti-DDoS protection options in it. I have used CSF on other servers of mine, and attempted to pwn them pretty hard for testing purposes just to have CSF put me down. That said, it's definitely not unbeatable, but it's solid, that's for sure.

Running CSF

Once that is all said and done, we want to test CSF to ensure everything is working properly.

To do this, let's start CSF

  • csf -e

You should see a bunch of text scroll through your screen, and a message that reads:

  • csf and lfd have been enabled

*WARNING* TESTING mode is enabled - do not forget to disable it in the configuration

At this point, the firewall is running. Now is when you try to connect your usual services, run your games, and do whatever it is that you normally do.

If at this point you have no issues (which you shouldn't if you followed the comments in the config file properly!) you can disable testing mode.

  • nano /etc/csf/csf.conf

TESTING = "1" becomes TESTING = "0"

And then

  • csf -r

to restart CSF.

You're done!

Anytime you ever need to add ports, you can simply open the CSF config file again, add the port numbers, and then restart csf with

  • csf -r

If you ever need to stop CSF, use

  • csf -x

Your system is now protected by a firewall!

More resources and information can be found at:

  • https://configserver.com/cp/csf.html
  • https://forum.configserver.com/

Now You: Do you use the built-in firewall on your system?

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Top 8 Things to do with a new Windows 10 System http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/top-8-things-to-do-with-a-new-windows-10-system/ http://www.ghacks.net/2017/03/17/top-8-things-to-do-with-a-new-windows-10-system/#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 17:16:39 +0000 http://www.ghacks.net/?p=131284 A fresh installed Windows 10 operating system, regardless of whether it is store-bought, an upgrade from an earlier version of Windows, or a reset of Window 10 machine, is a good opportunity to apply some useful tweaks and fixes to the operating system. While deep customization of Windows 10 depends largely on what you use […]

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A fresh installed Windows 10 operating system, regardless of whether it is store-bought, an upgrade from an earlier version of Windows, or a reset of Window 10 machine, is a good opportunity to apply some useful tweaks and fixes to the operating system.

While deep customization of Windows 10 depends largely on what you use the device for, there are certain tweaks and changes that are beneficial to the vast majority of users.

Here are our recommendations when it comes to that.

Note: It is recommended to create a backup of important date, or the system image, before you continue. While you should not experience any issues making the changes, a restoration option is a must.

1. Update Checks

march 2017 windows security updates

One of the first things that you may want to do is install updates. How you do that depends largely on the type of updates that you want to install.

You have options to install only security updates, or also non-security updates. If you fall into the latter group, you can just go ahead, fire up Windows Update, and let Windows do all the updating for you.

If you want only security updates, then you need to download security patches manually, and install them this way.

The reason why some users prefer the latter group is that they want to avoid Telemetry patches, privacy issues, and other changes that Microsoft may introduce with these patches. You can grab the security only patches at the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

It is a good idea however to make sure that you don't run a feature update version of Windows 10 that is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Also, make sure you block driver updates when you use Windows Update, and set Windows Update to inform you about updates only.

Rule of thumb: Microsoft supports the last two feature updates at the very least.

Tip: To find out which version you run, tap on the Windows-key, type winver.exe, and hit the Enter-key.

Also, install drivers if you require them, e.g. for the video card, printer, or other peripherals.

2. Backup

veeam backup

In times where ransomware threats and malware attacks are on the rise, where Windows Updates may cause issues, you need a backup strategy.

While you can make use of File History and System Restore, it is better in my opinion to create full system backups regularly. At the very least, backup the Windows partition in regular intervals, and all important data regardless of where it is stored.

Use a free program like Veeam Endpoint Backup Free for that, or Macrium Reflect, Backupper, or any other free backup software that supports system backups.

If you don't have enough storage space for backing up the entire partition, consider buying an external hard drive that has sufficient space for the backup (or an internal drive if you are comfortable enough adding it to the PC).

Create a backup right away.

3. Privacy

windows 10 privacy

Windows 10 is quite the data hungry operating system. Microsoft collects Telemetry data and other data, and some of it is also accessible by third-parties.

A good starting point is to make sure that the privacy preferences in the Settings application are set correctly.

These options are not sufficient however if you value your privacy. This is where third-party privacy programs for Windows 10 come into play.

We suggest you pick a program from the list that has been updated this year. W10Privacy for instance is a good candidate.

The programs offer lots of options, from killing Wi-Fi Sharing and removing system apps, to changing Telemetry settings or blocking servers using the hosts file.

4. Security Software

hitmanpro 3.7

Windows 10 ships with a two-way firewall and Windows Defender. If you plan to use those, you may want to add at least a second opinion scanner to Windows 10. Pick something like Malwarebytes 3.0 for that in this case.

Programs that you may want to consider for some extra security are Windows Firewall Control for better Windows Firewall control, Sandboxie for sandboxing some programs, or Hitman.Pro for some extra protection.

5. Explorer tweaks

hidden items

File Explorer is the default file browser on the operating system. You use it for many things unless you install a third-party alternative.

One of the first things you should do is make a couple of tweaks to File Explorer:

Display file extensions for all file types -- Windows hides some file extensions by default. This is commonly exploited by malware, and it may also lead to confusion when you are change the file extension.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Select View at the top, and check File name extensions.

Display hidden items -- File Explorer hides items by default. Windows differentiates between operating system items that are hidden by default, and regular items that are hidden. It is a good idea to display hidden items.

 

  • Open File Explorer.
  • Select View at the top, and check hidden items.

Add or remove items from the file table -- Explorer displays file names, types, size and modification details in its interface. You can add or remove details from the table, for instance to display the date the file or folder was accessed the last time.

  1. Right-click on the header bar (e.g. on name), and select more from the context menu.
  2. Select or uncheck items there, and click ok afterwards.

Tip: Check out Winaero Tweaker for lots of other tweaks.

6. Remove Apps you don't require

uninstall system app

While you cannot uninstall all system apps that ship with Windows using the Settings application, you can remove some.

It makes no sense virtually to keep apps installed that you will never use.

  1. Use Windows-I to open the Settings application.
  2. Select System > Apps > Apps & features (It is Apps > Apps & Features in the Windows Creators update or later).
  3. Select the application that you want to remove, and click on the uninstall button that appears.

You can remove any native app that ships with Windows 10 using Powershell.

Tip: you may also want to run disk cleanup. Tap on the Windows-key, type disk cleanup, and select the option. Select the c: drive and hit ok. Wait for the program to run the scan,  select clean up system files, and repeat the process.

7. Install custom software

firefox 52.0

You may want to install a couple of third-party tools once you are done with all the things mentioned above.

What you install depends largely on what you need. You may want to consider installing a new browser, image editor, video player, and many other programs.

I suggest you check out our best Windows software listing for more than hundred programs that we recommend.

8. Disable Ads

Microsoft is pushing ads in various places. The company calls these recommendations, suggestions or tips.

You may find ads in the start menu, on the lockscreen, in File Explorer, and on the taskbar. Consult the following guides to find out how to disable ads in these locations:

  1. Disable ads in Windows 10 File Explorer
  2. Turn off Start Menu ads
  3. Turn off the Windows Customer Experience Program

Now You: Have another tip? Feel free to share it in the comments.

 

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