Posts filed under ‘Computers and Internet’

The Twitter Bird is Named Larry (Bird)

Twitter’s bird logo can be found on almost every website that’s been updated in the past five years. Despite its ubiquity, most people don’t realize the bird is named Larry.

twitter_logo

Larry the bird is named after former professional basketball player Larry Bird. Drafted in 1978, Larry Bird played professional basketball for the Boston Celtics for a better part of 23 years.

twitter larry bird

So, it’s no surprise that Boston native and twitter cofounder Biz Stone named the company’s bird after an iconic local hero.

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Sources: today.comtwitter.com, wikipedia (Larry Bird), boston.com

July 18, 2013 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Netflix Accounts for 29% of North American Internet Traffic

By Chad Upton | Editor

YouTube was once the king of online video bandwidth. They still make a significant dent, especially in Europe where they account for more than 20% of peak downstream mobile traffic.

In North America, Netflix is the largest single consumer of bandwidth. At peak, they’re tasked with 33% of downstream internet traffic. Off peak, they’re responsible for about 28.8% of downstream bandwidth.

As Netflix continues to expand into South America and Europe, they will certainly impose a bigger footprint on networks in those regions. Interestingly, they may also have a calming effect on other local internet traffic. Analysis shows that bit-torrent traffic, sometimes used to pirate movies and tv shows, actually decreases when Netflix is introduced into a market.

Since some Internet Service Providers slow down the internet for users running bit-torrent clients, Netflix may be something they’re willing to pay for.

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sources: sandvine.com, wikipedia (Netflix), torrentfreak.com

May 8, 2013 at 2:00 am 2 comments

YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

By Chad Upton | Editor

The youtube.com video player only has a few buttons on it, making it hard to freeze a video on a specific frame. But, using the keyboard shortcuts, you can control the video frame-by-frame or quickly expand it to fullscreen mode.

My favorite is probably the fullscreen shortcut; it’s much easier to hit the F key than move the mouse and click the fullscreen button. Here is a list of some other shortcuts:

Playback Controls:

  • K – Play/Pause (spacebar does the same)
  • J – Jump back 3 seconds when playing / jump back one frame when paused (Left Arrow Key does the same)
  • L – Jump forward 3 seconds when playing / jump forward one frame when paused (right arrow key does the same)
  • 0 – Jump to beginning
  • 1-9 – The number keys can be used to jump to a relative point on the timeline. For example, 5 jumps to the 50% mark on the timeline, half way through the video. 1 jumps to the 10% mark and 9 jumps to the 90% mark.

Volume Controls:

  • M – Mute
  • Up Arrow – Increase Volume 5%
  • Down Arrow – Decrease Volume 5%

View Control:

  • F – Fullscreen (ESC to exit fullscreen)

This is great if you’re trying to spot a secret in a video or just cue up a clip to show a friend. From my testing, these keys work in Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

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April 11, 2013 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Page Up and Page Down Shortcuts in Mac OS X

By Chad Upton | Editor

Unless you’ve specifically bought the full size Mac keyboard, you’re missing dedicated page up and page down keys.

Page Up Page Down Mac

But, you’re not missing out on the functionality; here are the shortcuts: (more…)

March 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm 3 comments

How to Maximize a Window in Mac OS

By Chad Upton | Editor

One of the most annoying Mac OS traits is the inconsistent behavior of the maximize (aka “zoom”) button.

Some native apps, such as iCal, Mail, iPhoto, behave as you might expect and completely fill the screen when the maximize button is clicked. But, many other applications do not fill the screen, instead they the button maximizes the height of the window, but not the width.

But, there is another trick that maximizes some other applications, such as Chrome. Holding down shift while clicking the green maximize button, will maximize the window to fill the screen.

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November 13, 2012 at 2:00 am 4 comments

The Dropped Call Rules

By Chad Upton | Editor

No matter which mobile phone carrier you use, you’ll eventually drop a call with somebody. Even if you don’t have a cellphone, you still have to deal with dropped calls when you’re talking with people who do.

Sometimes you both try to call each other at the same time and get each other’s voicemail. Other times, you try to call the other person and they’re still talking away, oblivious to the fact that the call was dropped.

Rule #1: Whoever initiated the call, initiates the call back after a dropped call.

To some, this rule is obvious. But, it needs to be stated to remove any confusion and prevent the double voicemail dilemma.

Rule #2: Whoever was listening when the call was dropped, remembers the last sentence the other person said.

This is less obvious, but since the listener is the only one who knows exactly when the call was dropped; they need to remember the last sentence or at least the topic — this may be the same person who needs to call the other person back.

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Photo: addicted eyes (cc)

December 8, 2011 at 2:00 am 3 comments

You May Have Helped Translate Books Without Knowing It

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you’ve created a website account with Facebook, TicketMaster, Twitter, CNN, Craigslist or thousands of other sites, then you have helped translate text from old books and newspapers.

Websites that offer free accounts try to ensure that every account is created by a real human being instead of a computer “bot” — computer programs written to automatically create accounts and then spam those websites with ads. One way to protect against bots is to have people do something that is easy for a human but difficult for a computer: read distorted text.

That’s why you are frequently asked to solve these simple word puzzles. Although it’s a bit annoying, it helps make the website better by reducing spam and other abuse. There are many variants of these puzzles, called captchas, and if the website uses the reCAPTCHA system, your work can also benefit society. (more…)

September 29, 2011 at 2:00 am 10 comments

Label Cords Cheaply and Easily

By Chad Upton | Editor

Sometimes you have to temporarily disconnect your home electronics. It can be difficult to find a device you can spare or remember which cables to put back later. Use bread expiration tags as labels.

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July 6, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

Emoticons and Other Facebook Tricks

By Kaye Nemec

In almost seven years, Facebook has captured over 600 million users and that number continues to grow. The ‘powers that be’ are constantly changing, updating and tweaking Facebook. While most people wait to see the new and exciting features from each update, you can read on for a few features you can try the next time you log in.

Bold Characters

Surround your text with stars to get bold text in the chat box. For example: *Hi! How are you?* will show up as Hi! How are you?


Underlined Characters

Surround your text with underscores to get underlined text in the chat box. For example: _I’m doing well. How are you doing?_ will show up as I’m doing well. How are you doing

Shapes

There are several different shapes you can use when chatting.

<(“) = penguin

(^^^) = shark

<3 = heart

:putnam:  = man’s head/face

The list of smiley faces you can use in chat is lengthy, but here are a few unique options:

8-) = glasses

:-* = lips

8-| = sunglasses

O:) = angel

:|] = robot

Use alt + any combination of numbers on the number pad to add characters to your status, chat and posts. For example:

Alt+14 =

Alt+13 =

Alt+3 =

Alt+5 =

Alt+36 = $

Privacy

When you’re friends with co-workers or family members, there may come a time when your one-of-a-kind status might not be something that one of these ‘friends’ would appreciate. Here’s how to select who gets to read your status and who doesn’t.

  1. On your profile page click in the ‘status box.’
  2. Click on the pad lock icon so a drop down menu appears.
  3. Choose ‘customize.’
  4. In the ‘These People’ box select ‘specific people’ and type in who you would like to be able to see your status. Or, if there are just a few people you’d like it hidden from, simply fill in the ‘Hide this from these people’ box and click ‘Save Setting.’

Linking to Other Profiles

Interested in linking to someone’s name in your status? Simply type @Joe Smith and a drop down menu will appear. Once Joe’s name appears and you click on it, it will show up as a blue hyperlink in your status, but the @ sign will disappear.

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Sources: XOMBA.com,fbsmileys.com, Mashable

Photo: marcopako (cc)

February 2, 2011 at 2:00 am 9 comments

Standard Keyboards are Designed to Slow You Down

By Kyle Kurpinski

It’s no secret that you will probably spend a significant chunk of your lifetime prodding at a keyboard, but have you ever considered why keyboards are designed the way they are? Logic would dictate that the layout of the keys should increase typing efficiency and maximize your output. Reality, however, is not always logical, and the vast majority of modern keyboards are actually designed to make you type slower.

The basic QWERTY layout – the default keyboard layout you’re probably using right now – is a remnant of the very first typewriters. As a kid I used to play with my mother’s typewriter and I would frequently jam the machine by pressing too many keys at once. The same thing could happen if a proficient typist hit two or more keys in rapid succession. Due to the mechanical nature of the typebars, jams were increasingly likely with faster typing speeds. The QWERTY layout (named for the six letters at the left side of the top row) was specifically designed to space out the most common letter combinations, thereby reducing jams by stunting the user’s output. By the time newer devices made typebars obsolete, QWERTY had already cemented itself as the primary standard layout. So if you’re using this archaic configuration today (which I admit, I am), you’re actually making yourself less efficient and potentially increasing your risk of a repetitive strain injury like carpal tunnel. Fortunately, there are other options available.

In 1963, Dr. Augustus Dvorak and his brother-in-law patented the (you guessed it) “Dvorak Simplified Keyboard,” which is one of the more commonly used keyboard alternatives. And no, it’s not just for engineers or computer scientists (or at least, it shouldn’t be). Take a look at the Dvorak layout below and compare it to your QWERTY keys. Note how many of the most common letters in the English language – T, N, S, vowels, etc. – are located in the “home row” where your fingers normally rest. This allows you to type the majority of letters with minimal hand movement. Less common letters like Q, X, and Z reside in the bottom row where keys are the most difficult to reach. On a Dvorak keyboard, approximately 70% of the keystrokes will occur in the home row compared to only 32% on a QWERTY layout.

Other alternative configurations are also available, including one-handed keyboards for people who like to type and use a mouse (or other peripheral) simultaneously, but Dvorak is probably the place to start if you’re looking for a quick way to increase your word-processing efficiency. Yes, it will take some vigilance to re-learn how to type on a completely different layout, but the results could very well be worth it. Besides, doesn’t it feel a little funny to willingly use a device designed to handicap you?

If you do decide to make the switch, the software to run Dvorak is already included with all major operating systems and can typically be activated with a with a simple change of preferences. You won’t even need to buy a new keyboard – Dvorak decal sets are available online (usually for a couple bucks) or if you’re ready to scrap QWERTY altogether you can manually remove and rearrange the keys yourself.

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Source: Wikipedia

Image: josue salazar

January 24, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

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