Category: Tech Tip

Tips on using computers, other technology and devices.


Tech Tip: View and control plugins in Google Chrome

By Nathan Vidal,

Chrome plugins

Chrome PluginsAs useful as our browsers are at giving us access to content on the internet they are not as useful without plugins. Some websites will not function properly, or have limited functionality, without specific plugins installed. Adobe Flash Player is one of the most popular web plugins but various other programs utilize plugins to provide seamless integration while you are surfing the web. Fortunately, there is an easy way to check the plugins that are installed for Google Chrome and disable or uninstall those that are not needed.

To see the plugins installed in your Google Chrome browser simply type chrome://plugins in the address bar and press Enter. This will show you a list of the plugins that are used by your Chrome browser along with a brief description and a link to disable (or enable) them. You can also click on the Details link at the top right of the page to see more information about the plugins such as where they are saved on your computer.

Tech Tip: Change speed of videos on YouTube

By Nathan Vidal,

YouTube

You can change the speed of videos on YouTube if you are using the HTML 5 player rather than the Flash player. To check which version you are using you can visit the YouTube HTML Video Player page. There you can see whether you are using the HTML 5 player and switch to using it if you are not.

YouTube Request HTML

Once you have switched to the HTML 5 video player YouTube will no longer use the Flash Player to play your videos. By clicking on the gear at the bottom right of videos you will now be able to change playback speed.

YouTube Change Video Speed

Related links:

Enable Variable Speed Playback in YouTube (LifeHacker)

Tech Tip: Control PC volume by application

By Nathan Vidal,

Control Volume By Program

Volume MixerMultitasking is great and it is pretty easy to navigate between different programs on Windows. Multiple sounds, however, can be very annoying when they come from different programs. The sounds from a game can interrupt the music you are listening to or you may just want the volume of certain programs to be lower. In Windows 7 you can control the volume on a per application basis using the Volume Mixer.

To access the Volume Mixer simply click on the volume icon in the taskbar and click on the Mixer link below your sound device. This will display volume controls for your open applications which you can modify as you like.

With these settings in mind you can now use different browsers for specific activities based on your sound preferences. You could open YouTube in Chrome with higher volume settings than the pages you are browsing in Firefox. That way if a website decides to automatically play sound it does not disturb as much. You can also use this options to completely mute certain applications so that you hear no sound from them at all.

Related Links
LifeHacker: Set Volume Levels for Individual Programs in Windows

Tech Tip: Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool

By Nathan Vidal,

Design of the week (June 22 – 28, 2014)

Windows 7 Home PremiumHaving a copy of Windows 7 available in the event that  you need to reinstall your operating system can be a lifesaver. With the Windows 7 USB/ DVD download tool you can make an ISO copy of Windows bootable on either a DVD  or a USB drive. The USB drive version is important since many modern notebooks come without internal optical disc drives. Many computers may also come without a hard copy of Windows which is great until something goes wrong. Fortunately this method can help you get your operating system back to working condition without having to order anything.

Getting an ISO copy of Windows 7

You will need to have a valid Windows 7 product key to legitimately use these ISO copies of Windows. If you already have Windows 7 installed on your computer the product key should be on a sticker at the back of your computer or at the bottom of your laptop. If you have a valid product key you can download these ISO copies of Windows:

Windows 7 Home Premium x86 with SP1

Windows  7  Home Premium x64 with SP1

Windows 7 Ultimate x86

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Creating a bootable DVD or USB drive version of Windows 7

Once you have the ISO file for your valid copy of Windows 7 saved you can use the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool to copy a bootable version onto your selected medium. This can then be used to reinstall the operating system.

Tech Tip: Follow all the action of World Cup 2014

By Nathan Vidal,

FIFA World Cup 2014
FIFA World Cup 2014 logo

The most prestigious tournament in the world of football (soccer) is taking place in Brazil this year. If you are interested in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and want to keep updated on your favourite team’s progress there are many options for you.  A search for the World cup in Google gives not only a list of related search results but also a small table of results and fixtures. Here are a few websites that you can follow to keep abreast of all the action in this year’s 64 match tournament. Unfortunately, the legal streaming services may not be available to viewers in the Caribbean.

News and updates

Fixtures and results

Watch live matches online

There are many articles explaining how to watch live matches online and these may be helpful if you are in the US, Canada or the UK.

Tech Tip: Bootable Linux on a USB drive

By Nathan Vidal,

Ubuntu Bootable USB

ubuntu_bootable_usb_Ubuntu Bootable USB200x200Windows may be the most popular operating system but there are alternatives. The Macintosh operating system is also popular but it is proprietary and like Windows it is not free. Linux is a free and open source operating system that can be used together with or in lieu of the other more popular operating systems.

In the unfortunate event that your operating system gets corrupt you may risk losing all your data by reformatting the hard drive. Your data may be saved, however, if you can boot into your operating system using a bootable version of Linux saved on a USB drive.

Instead of booting into your standard operating system you install Ubuntu onto your USB drive and boot from the USB drive at startup. This may require changing the boot order in your computers BIOS. You can do this by pressing the appropriate BIOS setup keys shown when your computer is starting up.

Once you ave booted into Linux you can either install the operating system on a different partition or use it from the USB drive. Be very careful if installing Linux to ensure that you do not inadvertently overwrite existing files by formatting the a hard drive if you do not want its contents erased.

Tech Tip: Search for credible information using Google Scholar

By Nathan Vidal,

Google Scholar

Google ScholarGoogle is renown as a powerful search engine that can help you find just about anything. This is a wonderful tool but its large range of results can sometimes be overwhelming. This is especially true for academic research where credible sources must be found and cited. This is where Google Scholar comes in handy. With the tagline “Stand on the shoulders of giants” this is the part of Google’s search engine dedicated to finding scholarly material.

Besides the link to each relevant scholarly article and a brief description of its contents the Google Scholar search results page also offers links to cite the article in commonly accepted formats such as MLA and APA. You can also save articles to a virtual library to read or cite later. Another useful feature of Google Scholar is the related articles link which allows you to search for content similar to the current search result.

Google Scholar search results screenshot

Example of Google Scholar search results

Google Scholar is a great tool for academic research and a useful tool for escaping generic search results. The next time you have a research project give it a try to see for yourself.

Tech Tip: Optimize your website with Google Pagespeed

By Nathan Vidal,

Google Pagespeed

Google PagespeedOne of the keys to a successful website is its speed. The website must load before your visitors become impatient and navigate away from your website. No matter how great your content is, if people cannot access it in a timely fashion you will lose valuable visitors. Fortunately you can analyze the performance of your website with Google Pagespeed – a free online tool for website developers.

Google Pagespeed measures your website’s performance on both mobile and desktop devices. A screenshot of how your website displays on these devices is even included. The results rates your website over 100 and offers advice on how you can improve your website’s performance. This is a handy tool for website developers and the curious who would like to know how their favourite sites perform.

Tech Tip: Take screenshots in Firefox using Lightshot Add-on

By Nathan Vidal,

Screenshot of Lightshot add-on

Lightshot Add-on In ActionThere are times when you just need to take a screenshot of something on a website you are visiting. It could be the receipt for the transaction you have just completed or the funny conversation on Facebook or Twitter. The Lightshot add-on for Firefox allows you to easily select a specific section of the screen which you can save as an image or copy to the clipboard.

The beauty of this add-on is not only in it’s simplicity but also in it’s ease of use. You can add text, draw lines or add arrows and rectangles to the selected screen area before you save, print copy or upload it. You can also search for similar images on Google directly from the add-on. This add-on is a handy tool for anyone who needs to grab pictures from a website. We use this tool to grab screenshots of websites we have designed to include in our clients’ user manuals.

Tech Tip: Shut down your PC periodically to install updates

By Nathan Vidal,

Power Off PC

Power Off PCWe know that there are benefits of hibernating your computer instead of shutting down, but shutting down periodically does have its benefits. Many critical Windows updates require you to restart your computer so that system files that are currently in use can be updated. This is annoying but a necessary step to ensure that your Windows PC is not susceptible to bugs and security vulnerabilities addressed in these updates.

Before shutting down your computer look for any notifications that updates are ready to be installed. If any such notification is present expect your computer to take a little longer to shut down. Also expect your computer to take a longer time to start up on the next boot because files are being updated.