Posts filed under ‘Computers and Internet’

Finding Home and End on a Mac Keyboard

By Chad Upton | Editor

I use both Mac and Windows computers and I appreciate some attributes of each. For example, I really like the home and end keys on Windows keyboards. These guys make it a breeze to select a single line of text or jump to the end of the line to keep writing after an edit.

Because Apple market share is at an all time high, I’m sure a lot of people are going to notice the absence of these keys when they switch. Unless you’ve got the full-size apple keyboard, the “home” and “end” keys are absent on your desktop or macbook keyboard. But, if you hold down the fn (or control) key, you can use the left and right arrow keys as home and end keys respectively. Hold shift while doing this to select the characters between cursor positions.

Speaking of the Mac keyboard, the delete key is equivalent to the backspace key on a Windows computer — it deletes characters to the left of the cursor. But, you can make Mac’s delete key function like the Windows delete key if you hold the fn key while pressing it — deleting characters to the right. Another favorite keyboard shortcut on Mac OS is fn + F11 which will temporarily hide your windows to expose your desktop, allowing you to easily select files without going to the finder or minimizing all of your windows. Then press fn+F11 to bring all your windows back to their original positions.

By the way, you can plug a Windows USB keyboard into a Mac, although not all of the task keys function the way they do on a PC.

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January 10, 2011 at 2:00 am 41 comments

Google Search Tricks

By Chad Upton | Editor

Google is an amazing search engine. Most of us use it to find websites with information, but it can do so much more than show you websites with answers. There are hundreds of built in features that can give you the information directly, without having to go to another site.

Movies Times

Enter “movies” followed by your town/city/postal or zip code and you’ll see some movie times for a couple popular movies along with a link to get the full list of movie times for your area.

Track Packages

Just type in a FedEx, UPS or USPS tracking number and Google will give you a link to see the shipping details.

Track Flights

Enter the airline and flight number and search. No more clicks, the info will be right there.

Find the Best Price

Enter the model name or number of a product you’d like to buy. Then click the “shopping” link at the top and Google will show prices at online retailers. To ensure you get the lowest price, you can sort by price (including shipping). There will likely be some retailers that you’ve never heard of, so you can read retailer reviews and sort by their rating as well.

Define a Word

Lets say some fancy pants uses the word “noetic” and you don’t know what it means. You could go to your favorite dictionary site, or you could type “define:noetic” into Google search. It’ll give you a list of definitions from various sites.

Unit Conversion

Whether you need to convert cups to gallons or go between metric and imperial units, Google’s conversion engine can help.

Currency Conversion

Just type in the value and the currency to convert from and to, example: 100 Euros in Australian dollars

Time

You think you’re doing a nice thing, calling somebody far away to make sure they’re well and give them a familiar voice to talk to. Then they answer the phone as if you woke them up in the middle of the afternoon, but you forgot that’s 4am in Tokyo. You can easily avoid this by checking the local time before calling.

Weather

Should you pack shorts or pants for your weekend getaway? Get a 5 day forecast in seconds (and easily switch between F/C).

Stock Quotes

Just enter the stock symbol and search.

There are many more of these features and I’ll be sure to share more later.

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Search a Specific Site

Some websites do not have good search functions on them. Sometimes I’ll read something on a site and then I go back to find it later and the site search is horrible. Otherwise, you might use google as your homepage, so it could be easier to initiate the search from there.

For example, you may remember reading why some knives have serrated blades on BrokenSecrets.com. But, you want to read it again or send the link to someone who was interested in it. You can type in google, “serrated site:brokensecrets.com” and it will only show results from BrokenSecrets.com.

Using Google as a Time Machine

Because Google’s spiders are constantly crawling the web, storing pages of data so they can resolve accurate and timely information for your search requests. Google actually lets you view the last set of data that was captured.

This information is helpful is a website cannot be reached, but you still want information from it. It’s also useful if information has changed, moved or been removed, you can potentially look at a previous version of the information.

October 13, 2010 at 2:00 am 5 comments

How to Watch Blocked Internet Videos

By Chad Upton | Editor

The internet is a great place to catch TV shows and clips that you or your PVR missed.

Unfortunately, a lot of websites only allow their video content to be viewed in their service area. It’s not because they’re mean, they may have contracts that prevent them from distributing outside their area, not to mention cost savings reasons.

That’s right, it’s expensive to stream video over the internet to thousands or hundreds of thousands of people in a reliable way. You need a lot of servers and bandwidth, both of which are expensive, especially in large quantities. If a broadcaster only services one country, they’re not likely going to spend money to reach customers outside of their service area, although they may allow it if there are no restrictions of that nature in their distribution contracts.

Secondly, they may not be allowed to broadcast outside of their broadcast area. Broadcasters buy distribution rights for the shows and other content that they air. These distribution rights are usually sold by country. That means a broadcaster who buys the rights to air a show in the US is not allowed to distribute that show over the internet to another country since they have not bought the distribution rights required to broadcast in that country. In fact, another broadcaster in that country likely has paid for the rights to broadcast that same show there.

There are also legal agreements with members of various guilds and unions that may prevent content from being distributed in certain areas or for a finite time after the original air date.

Broadcasters can identify which country you’re in when you access their website. They use various methods to determine your location, but the most popular is something called Geo-IP look up. Basically, when you navigate to their website, the network address of your computer is sent to the web server. They can look up that address in a database to see the country that address is registered to. This method is accurate most of the time and in some cases they can actually narrow down the part the city that you live in.

Although there may be legal and ethical issues with it, there are ways to circumvent some of the methods that are used, potentially allowing you to view content from outside their intended region of distribution. These methods may be illegal in your country, so verify the legality of it before doing so.

I think there is at least one ethical use for circumventing regional lockouts. For example, I was in Canada a couple weeks ago and I wanted to catch up on one of my favorite shows. I normally watch the show on network TV and all of the advertising is relevant to me. I wasn’t able to watch videos on the broadcaster’s website from Canada, so I could have used the following method to make it work:

  1. Install this Firefox plugin: http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/967 (requires Firefox browser)
  2. In Firefox, Go to “tools” > “Add-ons” and click on the “Preferences” button for the Modify Headers add-on.
  3. Click on the “Headers” tab at the top.
  4. Then enter: “X-Forwarded-For” in the “Header name” input box (without the quotation marks).
  5. Enter one of the following IP addresses in the “Header Value” input box (without the quotation marks, and choose the country where the content is accessible from)
    USA – 12.13.14.15
    Canada – 207.245.252.27
    UK – 193.35.131.194
  6. Select “Add” from the “Selection action” drop down.
  7. Enter the country name in the “Descriptive comment” input box.
  8. Click “Add”.
  9. Now select the one you just added in the list and then click the “Enable/Disable” button. You should see a green circle next to it, indicating it is enabled.
  10. Close the Modify Headers box, restart the Firefox browser and visit the intended website.

I should note some websites that the above method does not work for:

  • cbs.com
  • cwtv.com (the CW)
  • hulu.com
  • sho.com (showtime)
  • tnt.tv

There are at least four times that many sites that DO work, although I’d rather not single them out for legal reasons. There are also a few other methods, but this is by far the easiest to setup and use. If you have IP addresses for other countries, let me know and I’ll add them.

Also, it takes a lot of people and money to make these great shows; be sure to support them by purchasing them when they come out on disc or renting them from iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, etc.

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Sources: Hulu, Spike

September 27, 2010 at 5:00 am 65 comments

Microsoft Invested in Apple in 1997

By Chad Upton | Editor

Microsoft and Apple are mortal enemies, at least, that’s what their TV commercials will have you believe.

They’ve always been competitors, originally trying to dominate our preference in computers, and now music players and mobile phones. Apple has a strong lead in music player and mobile phone segments, but Microsoft has a big lead as the dominant operating system. That said, Apple has become much more competitive in that space, especially in the past few years.

Their competition is most visible during commercial breaks, when they take jabs at each others potential flaws. Forget on court trash talk, when you’ve got as much money as these guys, you can trash talk in the form of multi-year, multi-million dollar ad campaigns — it’s so much more fun.

You see, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft founder Bill Gates have a long history as friends. In the early days, they used to take their girlfriends on double dates with each other. They didn’t see a lot of each other after Bill moved to Washington State, but they’ve remained friends.

In fact, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1996, the company needed help. To be a serious player, Apple also needed competitive office software.

Mac fans and developers were shocked on August 6th, 1997 when Bill Gates appeared via teleconference during Steve Job’s presentation at Macworld.

Steve and Bill announced that Microsoft would invest $150 million in Apple. Today, it sounds crazy, and at the time it sounded pretty crazy too. Jobs was booed when he announced the partnership and Bill was booed when he appeared on screen. But, it actually made a lot of sense for both companies. Steve said it best, “We have to let go of a few notions here. We have to let go of the notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft needs to lose.” (more…)

August 30, 2010 at 5:00 am 5 comments

Desktop Snacking Without a Greasy Keyboard

With more work and less help, it’s no surprise that nearly 70% of Americans eat lunch at their desks. At 61% the majority of people also snack at their desk throughout the day.

All that food is one reason keyboards and mice are have more bacteria than most toilet seats. Also, office toilet seats are usually sanitized daily, when was the last time your keyboard or mouse were?

This tip is helpful because your hands never touch your food. This prevents your keyboard from getting dirtier and it keeps your hands from passing bacteria to your mouth.

1. Pour bite-size snacks into a cup or glass.

2. Angle cup into your mouth so bite-size snacks fall into your mouth.

3. Chew, swallow and repeat from step 2.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Home Food Safety Org, ABC News

July 5, 2010 at 5:00 am 9 comments

YouTube URL Secrets

It used to be, when you wanted to share a video, you’d attach it to an email and send it out to your friends.

Now when you want to share a video, you find the video on youtube and send a link — that keeps everybody’s inbox from filling up.

Change the Starting Position

Sometimes, you’ll want to make sure your friends see exactly what you’re talking about. To start the video at a specific spot, you can append “#t=MMmSSs” to the end of the url (link). You’ll replace the uppercase Ms with the number of minutes and the uppercase Ss with the number of seconds in the video where you want playback to begin.

For example, if I want to jump to the 2 minute, 39 second point in a video, then I would add “#t2m39s” to the end of the URL (example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_HkH8huuzA#t=2m39s)

This trick also works for embedding a video. Although, when embedding use “&start” instead of “#t” and it’s in seconds only. (example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_HkH8huuzA&start=159). Try playing the following video, it will start near the end.

High Definition

Many YouTube videos are now available in HD. To ensure you link to the HD version, append “&fmt=22” to the end of the url. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_HkH8huuzA&fmt=22)

Download Video

Maybe you want to transfer a video to your iPod or laptop for offline playback. If you load a video in youtube, you can swap out “youtube” for “keephd” in the URL. If there is a forward slash “/” after “watch” then you may want to remove that as well. This new url will take you to keephd.com and it will give you links to download the youtube video.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Make Use Of, Ampercent

June 30, 2010 at 5:00 am 3 comments

Arial is Not a Font

Arial is a typeface (aka “font family”). In fact, what many people refer to as “fonts” are actually “typefaces.”

The meaning of the word “font” has been butchered since the introduction of desktop publishing in the mid 1980s.

What is the true meaning? Directly from Wikipedia, “… a complete character set of a single size and style of a particular typeface.”

In other words, a font is a specific version of a typeface. Arial is a typeface, and 12-point Arial Italic is a font. 14-point Arial Italic is a different font in the Arial font family.

Changing the size of text on a computer is not a significant amount of work, so it might seem silly to think that you’re actually changing the font when you do this. Especially since we think of the font as just the typeface and not its size or style. But, this terminology made a lot of sense before desktop publishing.

The first printing presses used characters that were carved from wood and arranged in order to form a complete sentence, although they were glyphs rather than Latin characters.

This evolved into more modern systems that used metal characters that were more durable. At that time, changing the size of a typeface was a lot of work — it meant you had to pull all of the letters out and reassemble the words with a different set of metal pieces. (more…)

May 18, 2010 at 12:01 am 6 comments

iPhone and iPod Tricks

Apple has sold 50 million iPhones and 35 million iPod touch devices, so there are a lot of people who can benefit from these secrets.

This is by no means a complete list, but I wanted to provide some of the most useful and least well known iPhone tricks. Most of this list also applies to the iPod touch; if you know someone with one of these, be sure to send them a link to this article.

Double Click the Home Button

The button on the front of the phone is called the “home” button. You can choose what happens when you double click it. Mine is set to go to my phone favorites, making it quicker to dial my people. You can get to this screen by going to Settings > General > Home.

As you can see on the option screen above, there is an option for “iPod Controls.” When those are on and the phone is in standby mode (blank screen), you can double click the home button to see the current song/artist/album cover and show audio controls (volume/forward/back/play/pause) — see below for example. If you want to fast forward or rewind, hold the forward/back buttons respectively.

(more…)

May 3, 2010 at 12:11 am 19 comments

Remove Farmville Updates from Your Facebook Feed

Many of my friends play Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Although my Facebook news feed is littered with requests, I don’t have any interest in watering their crops or feeding their puppies. All that noise makes it difficult to get to the heart of Facebook productivity, making jokes and sending pokes.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is a lot of fun and a great way to stay in the loop, but I wish there were fewer FarmVille updates.

Thankfully, Facebook has made it very easy to hide these updates. If you put your mouse over an update, a “hide” button will appear in the top right corner (figure 1).

Figure 1

Click the hide button and you’ll have the option to hide all updates from that person or hide the updates from that application (figure 2).

Figure 2

Click “Hide FarmVille” and you’ll never see another FarmVille update. The same technique works for other applications (“apps”) such as Mafia Wars, Cafe World and others. On that note, if you’re not already a fan, join Broken Secrets on Facebook — I won’t spam your feed, I promise.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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April 27, 2010 at 12:01 am 6 comments

Stop Cords from Falling Behind Your Desk

At some point, everyone with a rechargeable gadget will curse gravity as the cord falls behind their desk. This is extremely annoying, mostly because you never want to go under your desk if you don’t have to; although, you’ll probably find some other lost treasures when you do.

A friend shared this secret with me recently and it blew my mind: use binder clips to catch the cables.

I bought a pack of Medium Binder Clips at Staples (24 @ $2.79) and I weaved my cables through — they work perfectly. If your cable slides through easily, you may need to tie a very loose knot in the cable or even better, put a couple zip-ties around the cable to stop it from falling through.

Broken Secrets | Written By: Chad Upton

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April 20, 2010 at 12:01 am 9 comments

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