How-To Geek We Explain Technology Thu, 21 Mar 2019 10:28:04 +0000 en-us hourly 1 Geek Trivia: What Ubiquitous Insects Are Actually Crustaceans? Thu, 21 Mar 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

What Ubiquitous Insects Are Actually Crustaceans?

  1. Crickets
  2. Millipedes
  3. Pill Bugs
  4. Cockroaches

Think you know the answer?

How-To Geek Is Looking for Linux Writers Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:06:50 +0000 Chris Hoffman

Are you an experienced writer who knows your way around the Linux terminal? We’re looking for someone just like you to write Linux tutorials here at How-To Geek.

What We’re Looking For

We’re looking for experienced writers who are fluent with the Linux command line. The ideal candidate knows his or her way around Bash and is capable of explaining this geeky stuff to normal people.

We are not looking for a writer to cover Linux news, nor are we looking for someone who only has experience with the graphical Linux desktop. You may or may not end up writing some Linux news and tutorials about Linux desktop software, but we’re looking someone with serious Linux terminal chops. If you had Raspberry Pi experience, that would also be a plus.

This is a freelance position where you’ll be responsible for writing topics that are assigned to you, but you’ll also be able to pitch your own interesting Linux terminal articles we haven’t covered yet.

Here’s what we always look for in new writers:

  • You must be a geek at heart, always looking to learn more about technology and make your gadgets work better.
  • You must be able to explain complex topics in a way that is clear and easy to understand, even to non-experts.
  • You must be creative and have the ability to generate article ideas, take suggestions, and make topics interesting and exciting.
  • You must be at least 18 years old and have your own computer.
  • You must have solid English writing skills. It’s a shame we even have to mention that one.
  • You should have some basic screenshot and image editing chops. HTML skills are a plus.

To give you an idea of what we’ll expect, here are a few examples of the type of work we’re looking for:

How to Apply

Send an email to with the subject Linux Writer, and include the following in your email:

  • Explain why your geek skills are worth touting to millions of readers each month.
  • Your name and location.
  • Any previous experience you have with writing and/or blogging, particularly related to Linux.
  • Whether or not you are currently employed, and what you do if you are.
  • A brief overview of any other topics you are familiar with, and what operating systems, computers, and devices you have access to.
  • Most Importantly: We want a writing sample. If you have previous writing to showcase, particularly relevant Linux pieces that you’re proud of, include a link to it in your email. If you have a personal blog, a forum account, or a commenter account from anywhere, feel free to include that as well.

We don’t have normal office hours—or even an office—so you can be located anywhere. This is strictly a telecommuting gig.

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How to Use Guidelines to Line Up PowerPoint Objects Wed, 20 Mar 2019 19:00:00 +0000 Amelia Griggs

powerpoint logo

If you have several images on a slide, you can align your objects both horizontally and vertically for a more professional look. There are guides and gridlines available to help you align objects manually, and there are options to align objects for you automatically. Let’s see how it’s done.

Manually Aligning Objects

In this example, there are three objects on the slide. Point to the first object and drag upward or downward using your mouse. Once the object is centered either horizontally and vertically, a guideline will display.

guideline showing for dragged object

You can also use guides and gridlines to help you align your objects. From the “View” tab, click “Guides.” Two dotted lines then show up—one aligned to the horizontal center of the slide and one to the vertical center.

turning on guides

Additionally, you can turn on gridlines that can help you align object elsewhere on your slide. From the “View” tab, click “Gridlines.” More dotted lines then display to help you align your objects. You can drag your objects and use the gridlines to align them accordingly.

turning on gridlines

In this example, we moved each of the three objects upward to align them using the uppermost horizontal gridline:

Read the remaining 13 paragraphs

Daily Deals: Galaxy S10+ for $850, iPhone X for $640, Xbox One S for $170, and More Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:41:19 +0000 Andrew Heinzman The iPhone X, the Xbox One S, and the Samsung Galaxy 10 Plus

Wednesdays are the worst. It’s the middle of the week, and there’s no end in sight. At least we can find solace in discounted cellphones, a $170 Xbox One S, and a cheap iPad.

You probably didn’t plan on buying a phone today, but if you’ve had your eyes on the Galaxy S10+, the Galaxy 9, or the iPhone X, then now’s the time to hunt down your wallet. For whatever reason, eBay and B&H are running killer deals on the two most popular premium cellphones. Hey, I ain’t complaining. Some carriers still sell these phones for $1000, and the Galaxy S10+ is a brand new phone.

If you aren’t interested in a new phone, then there’s a good chance that you’re interested in a $170 Xbox One S with 1TB of internal storage. This is one of the best Xbox deals that we’ve seen, and eBay only has about 20 more units, so don’t wait too long to make your purchase.

Phones and Tablets

Need a hot new phone, or just something inexpensive to tide you over?

  • Samsung Galaxy S10+ Unlocked 128GB, $850 ($150 off) [eBay]
  • Samsung Galaxy 9 Unlocked 64GB, $455 ($100 off) [eBay]
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 9 512GB, $750 ($500 off) [B&H]
  • Apple iPhone X Refurbished Unlocked 256GB, $640 ($250 off) [eBay]
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus Unlocked 16GB, $160 [eBay]
  • LG X Venture Unlocked 32GB, $80 [eBay]
  • Apple iPad 128GB Latest Model, $330 ($100 off) [Amazon]
  • Lenovo Tab E7, $40 ($30 off) [Walmart]

Phone Accessories

The Anker PowerCore 5000, which is our favorite compact battery, is only $17 right now.

  • Anker PowerCore 5000 mAh Ultra-Compact Battery, $17 ($5 off) [Amazon]
  • JavMobile 10,000 mAh Power Bank, $17 ($13 off) [B&H]
  • Apple Displayport to DVI Adapter, $15 ($15 off) [LAComputer]

Laptops and Computer Accessories

Need a new laptop, or a mesh Wi-Fi system? We’ve got your back.

  • HP Pavilion 15.6″ 2-in-1, $400 ($100 off) [Walmart]
  • Lenovo Ideapad 33S, $647 ($100 off with coupon LENN100L) [Rakuten]
  • Netgear Orbi Mesh Wifi system, $200 ($50 off) [Amazon]
  • Vava USB-C Hub with PD, $40 ($20 off with coupon clip) [Amazon]
  • Netgear 3.0 Cable Modem $45 ($18 off with coupon clip) [Amazon]

Games and TVs

Touch up your media center with these games and accessories.

  • Xbox One S 1TB, $170 ($130 off) [eBay]
  • JVC 65″ 4K Smart TV, $500 ($150 off) [Walmart]
  • Nintendo Labo Customization Kit, $2 ($3 off) [GameStop]

Everything Else

Most of these deals are for the home and kitchen, but the Gerber MP600 Multi-Tool (a great multi-tool) could find a home in your car, bag, or desk.

  • Bissell Powerlift Pet Vacuum, $68 ($42 off) [Walmart]
  • Bestek 5 SPeed Hand Blender, $16 ($24 off with coupon FORPRO60) [Bestek]
  • Gerber MP600 Multi-Tool, $29 ($23 off) [Amazon]
  • Lodge 6 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $53 ($7 off) [Amazon]

Deals never last as long as they should. So if you’re in the market for a new phone or an Xbox One, then don’t wait to put down your money.

Apple Announces New AirPods and Wireless Charging Case Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:06:22 +0000 Josh Hendrickson AirPod Second Generation

Apple already announced new iPads and new iMacs this week. And now to continue that onslaught of updated hardware, it just released the second generation of AirPods, and to go with them (or your originals), a wireless charging case.

Airpods with Better Battery and Hey Siri

We think the AirPods are great for convenience, especially if you’re an iPhone or iPad user. They travel well, turn themselves on, and pair more easily to your Apple devices than any other Bluetooth device. That’s in part thanks to the custom W1 chip Apple built to improve wireless connectivity. What we wish they had is noise isolation, wireless charging, and longer battery life.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad, and Apple delivered. The latest version of AirPods features a custom H1 chip that takes what the AirPods do well and improves upon it. Apple claims the new AirPods will connect to your devices even faster, and the battery will last longer. The second generation AirPods should provide an extra hour of talk time (the company calls this a 50% improvement), and switching between devices should be twice as fast as the original AirPods. And they have “Hey Siri” capability, which someone will use. Probably by accident.

A New Wireless Charging Case Adds Even More Convenience

Wireless charging is one of those features that you can live without until you have it. And once you have it, you won’t go back. The good news is Apple released a wireless charging case for AirPods along with the hardware update. The better news is, they’re compatible with the previous generation AirPods.

To no one’s surprise, the wireless charging case uses the Qi standard and will work with any Qi charging pads you have now. What you won’t hear about is AirPower, that continues to be an unspoken subject with Apple. You can buy the wireless case separately for $79 if you already have AirPods.

If you’re in the market new AirPods you can either buy the new hardware today with a standard case for $159, or with the wireless charging case for $199. If you don’t already have AirPods and you think you may want wireless charging case, it makes the most sense to buy them up front given there’s a $40 difference between buying it as a bundle or buying it separately.

That is unless you’d prefer to buy one of the several cheaper alternatives we recommended in the past.

The Three Things Google Stadia Needs to Conquer the Gaming Industry Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:00:23 +0000 Michael Crider
Google's Stadia streaming game platform has enormous potential, and a few roadblocks.

Yesterday Google announced its long-anticipated streaming game platform, Stadia. In the news post we called it an “invasion” of gaming: this combination platform and delivery service has the potential to compete with consoles, PCs, and mobile games, all at once.

Google’s ambition is huge, but it’s appropriate to the task. The game industry as we know it is stagnating in terms of innovation, but its biggest corporate players are well-entrenched and experienced. If Stadia is to compete with the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, it needs to nail three crucial elements when it launches later in 2019.

Get the Games

The most important piece in the gaming platform puzzle is, naturally, the games. Consoles live and die on their game selection, and securing exclusive and desirable titles (either from third-party publishers or developers owned by the console manufacturer) is the best way to make sure you’re going to succeed.

With Stadia, Google is already on the right track. Its best move is undoubtedly becoming a publisher itself. Google hired Jade Raymond, formerly a game producer and studio head at mega-publishers EA and Ubisoft, to lead its own game studio. Stadia Games and Entertainment, a separate but linked company under Alphabet’s ever-widening umbrella, will be developing its own games for the Stadia platform as well as wooing independent developers to bring their games onboard.

Google's Stadia studio, under Ubisoft and EA veteran Raymond, will woo developers.
Google’s Stadia studio, under Ubisoft and EA veteran Raymond, will woo developers. Google

Another good move: announcing Stadia at the yearly Game Developer Conference, instead of at the upcoming Google I/O show or E3. By introducing Stadia specifically to game developers and publishers, including quite a lot of time showing off the unique design flexibility  of its remote Linux- and Vulkan-powered hardware, surely ignited the imagination of a lot of game makers. Today, the day after the announcement, you can bet there are game directors and developers scrambling to meet with Google’s Stadia team at GDC, desperate to check out the platform and get games on at launch.

Stadia isn’t the first gaming platform to use a 100% remote streaming setup: the ill-fated OnLive eventually became Sony’s PlayStation Now, NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is currently in beta, and Shadow allows for a more techy, individualistic approach. Microsoft is almost certainly going to go into streaming in a big way with the next Xbox, and rumors suggest that Verizon and Amazon are looking into it as well.

Stadia already works with the industry's most popular software tools.
Stadia already works with the industry’s most popular software tools. Google

But Stadia is the first streaming system to be built with streaming in mind from the ground up and upon the massive power of Google’s data centers and money. Demonstrating deep hooks in Chrome and YouTube (to capture the Twitch audience), powerful new ways to play split-screen and asynchronous multiplayer, and baked-in support for massively popular developer tools like Unreal Engine, Unity, CryEngine, and Havok are all smart moves for a new platform.

It means that not only will developers be able to port their existing projects to Stadia’s hardware easily, but they’ll also be able to create entirely new types of games that are only possible with access to Stadia’s web, streaming, and scalability functions.

DOOM Eternal is the only upcoming game confirmed to already be running on Stadia.
DOOM Eternal is the only upcoming game confirmed to already be running on Stadia. Google

During the GDC presentation, Google demonstrated partner projects with Ubisoft, Bethesda, 2K, Square-Enix, Tangent Games, Tequila Works, and Q-Games, but at the time of writing only Id Software’s DOOM Eternal has been confirmed for release on Stadia. Of course, Google can still mess up its initial relationship by limiting developers with restrictive platform rules, or by simply asking them for too much of a cut of their profits. Which is a nice segue into…

The Price is Right

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Shadow Game Streaming Review: Powerful Niche Service, but Skip the Hardware Wed, 20 Mar 2019 12:00:23 +0000 Michael Crider
The Shadow service is available on a variety of platforms.

Shadow wants to sell you a dream: a super-powerful, always-connected computer that you can access from anywhere and with any device. That computer is meant primarily for gaming, but since it’s running Windows, it can also do anything a normal PC can do.

And at a basic level, Shadow does that. The service works, and the experience is surprisingly good… so long as you’re accessing it from another computer. Move to a phone, a tablet, or even Shadow’s first-party Ghost hardware, and things fall apart quickly. That doesn’t mean that Shadow isn’t worth investigating, but it does mean that its appeal is limited to a very specific audience—and that a large portion of that audience probably already has access to a gaming PC.

Shadow is cool. But it isn’t living up to its potential, and for lot of users that’s going to mean it isn’t worth a fairly hefty $35 a month to access it.

What You Get with Shadow

So, a quick rundown of what Shadow is: it’s a platform that allows you to “rent” a high-end Windows machine, virtualized on Shadow’s servers, and accessed remotely from your Windows/MacOS/Linux PC, Android device, or the Shadow Ghost set-top box. The remote machine is fine-tuned to play PC games, with a powerful and dedicated NVIDIA GPU, a super-fast web connection at Shadow’s data center, all streaming to you at up to 1440p (or 1080p for 144 Hz speed).

Shadow, running its remote PC interface in a window on my desktop.
Shadow, running its remote PC interface in a window on my desktop. Michael Crider

That’s a neat trick. It’s nothing you can’t do with your own home PC and a remote access program—indeed, there are already services like NVIDIA GameStream and Steam In-Home Streaming that do pretty much the same thing. The advantage of the Shadow setup is that it’s in the cloud and accessible from anywhere with a fast data connection, and it’s also managed remotely for optimum stability and speed.

If you want a high-end gaming PC without having to build it or buy it, or even store it in your home and pay the extra electricity to run the thing, this is a good way to achieve your goal. That’s assuming that, one, you have a fast enough connection to make the streaming interface worth it (25 Mbps at least), and you’re willing to pay the $35 a month to access the service.

Shadow's hardware runs as a mid-to-high-end Windows PC.
Shadow’s hardware runs as a mid-to-high-end Windows PC. Michael Crider

A few other technical details. There’s basically no limit on the virtualized Windows machine, and you can install any software you like. Though you can’t change the hardware, it’s fairly generous in terms of specs. Your remote machine’s processor is an Intel Xeon E5-2678, with 12 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1080 equivalent GPU (one of the fastest around, though recently superseded by the new RTX models). The virtual storage is a bit tight at just 256GB, but it’s fast, and the data center’s connection is so speedy (700-800 Mbps when I tested it) that you can download even the largest games with almost no delay.

…and What You Don’t

Unlike more high-profile game streaming services from NVIDIA and Sony PlayStation, you don’t actually get any games to go on your Shadow machine. It comes pre-installed with game store clients like Steam, Origin, and Uplay, and it’s compatible with anything that runs on Windows, up to and including the newest titles. But you’ll have to provide those titles yourself, downloading and installing them manually. This is an advantage if you already have a huge library of PC games, but if not, you’ll be searching for some free stuff like Apex Legends. 

Another thing that Shadow doesn’t provide is a game management interface. The connection works more or less the same as any remote computer access system: log into Shadow’s service, and you’re presented with a standard Windows 10 desktop in either fullscreen or windowed mode. Switching between those two is easy, but actually managing your Shadow computer is more or less impossible without a mouse and keyboard ready to go.

Shadow running with a remote connection to my Xbox controller.
Shadow running with a remote connection to my Xbox controller. Michael Crider

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Morning Briefing: Second-Gen AirPods, Google’s EU Android Solution, and More Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:50:24 +0000 Cameron Summerson Morning Briefing
Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

Good morning! A bunch of stuff happened this morning, with Apple quietly announcing new AirPods, Google’s solution for its EU Android woes, some interesting takes on Google Stadia, and more. Here’s your morning briefing for March 20th, 2019.

Apple News

Apple has been on a slow roll of announcing devices updates every day this week, and today is no different—new AirPods are here!

  • The second generation AirPods have a wireless charging case, better battery life, and support for Hey Siri. That’s pretty much what everyone wanted, right? [Review Geek]

Google and Android News

The big news here is actually from yesterday: Google Stadia. Here’s a roundup of related information and interesting takes regarding this new game streaming platform. Oh, there’s some non-Stadia stuff in here too.

  • Google announced Stadia, and it is wild. [Review Geek]
  • It also released a nice little four-minute recap of the announcement if you want to get the gist without watching the full one-hour presentation. [9to5Google]
  • There’s a partner program for Stadia, offering free hardware and resources to help game developers get started with Stadia. Good, good. [9to5Google]
  • The Verge has some interesting thoughts on what Stadia means for the future of gaming. This could very easily be the first real model of what’s to come. [The Verge]
  • Similarly, our own Michael Crider talked Stadia and what it needs to succeed. It’s a great read. You can find it in your feed. I hope I don’t have to plead. Okay, I’m done (and sorry). [Review Geek]
  • While most details were scant (catalog, internet speed, price), Google told Kotaku that Project Stream—Stadia’s test phase—needed “at least a 25 Mbps connection” to run games at 1080p. Curious. [Kotaku]
  • In other news, Google is going to implement a browser and search ballot in Android devices in the EU. [Ars Technica]
  • Like the Google Doodle? Good, because it might be coming to your Android home screen. Cute. [Android Police]
  • Opera for Android now has a free, built-in VPN. Surf safely, my friends. [9to5Google]

Other News

NVIDIA is going to make you a great artist, Pandora offers more ways to find music, and more.

  • NVIDIA showed off tech that takes MS Paint drawings and turns them into some legit Bob Ross stuff. Dude. [Engadget]
  • Pandora now gives you five options for finding new tunes. Dig it. [Engadget]
  • Netflix’s new series “Battle Kitty” is an interactive show for kids. Because they don’t already watch enough TV. [Netflix]
  • Speaking of, the first trailer for Stranger Things Season 3 is here. Because we don’t already watch enough TV. [YouTube]
  • Amazon announced a new Kindle with an adjustable front light. And higher price tag. [Amazon]
  • In less happy news, a bunch of people got scammed because of a fake eBay ad in Google Search last week. Oof. [Bleeping Computer]

Here’s When a Dark Theme Can Save Battery Power Wed, 20 Mar 2019 14:24:00 +0000 Tom Westrick

Windows 10's blacked out Settings menu.

Dark themes are becoming more and more popular. On some devices, they can even save battery power. It all depends on what type of display your device have—only devices with OLED displays can reap the power-saving benefits.

Devices With OLED Displays Only

You’ve probably heard of OLED displays, especially if you’ve been on the market for a new TV in the last year or so. OLED screens differ from LCD and LED displays typically found in electronics in that OLEDs don’t have a backlight layer: each pixel is individually illuminated. This makes the display thinner, but the main draw is that black pixels don’t get lit up at all.

The result is higher contrast in your favorite films, inky blacks throughout any interface, and battery savings when you’re using a dark theme on your laptop or cell phone.

When a Dark Theme Can Save Battery Power on Your Laptop

Microsoft Edge's dark theme

OLED laptops are starting to appear, with some newer models just announced at CES 2019. There haven’t been any macOS or ChromeOS laptops with OLED screens, but there are a few Windows options. HP’s Spectre x360 15 is shipping with a 15-inch Samsung AMOLED display, while Lenovo is offering its Yoga C730 with an OLED panel. Surface fans will be out of luck—Microsoft hasn’t shipped an OLED screen on its laptops yet.

Changing to Windows’ dark theme is easy, and that will darken all of the built-in applications at the same time. Microsoft Office lets you change to a dark theme, as do a lot of third-party apps. Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome all offer dark themes, but your favorite websites may or may not. Google’s official dark theme isn’t stable on Windows yet but will arrive in the next few months.

You won’t get the battery savings benefits if your laptop isn’t using an OLED display, and you could find the dark theme may harm your battery life—in theory, at least. A dark theme could lead you to crank your laptop’s brightness to read text and see buttons in the interface, and the higher brightness would draw more power from the battery. This will depend on how much light is in your environment, how well your eyesight works, and how efficient the backlight is—so you may not notice any difference. Just keep that in mind when you’re switching to the dark side.

Of course, if you’re looking to save battery power, there are plenty of ways to increase your Windows laptop’s battery life. You could even use Windows 10’s battery saver mode. We’ve covered a lot of tips for saving battery power on your MacBook, too. And the same basic principles apply to extending your Chromebook’s battery life, too.

When a Dark Theme Can Save Battery Power on Your Cell Phone

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How to Insert Hyperlinks in Images in Gmail Wed, 20 Mar 2019 13:00:00 +0000 Marshall Gunnell

gmail logo

Adding hyperlinks is an efficient way of getting your reader to the intended web page. Though it’s no secret that you can add hyperlinks to text, Gmail also lets you add hyperlinks to images in the body of the email. Here’s how to make it happen.

Inserting Images in Gmail

We’ll assume that you’re already in your Gmail account. If not, go ahead and get there. When you’re ready, select the “Compose” button which can be found at the top-left corner.


Once selected, the “New Message” window will appear. When you’ve filled out the email address (1) and subject (2), and typed the body of your message (3), go ahead and place the cursor where you want to insert your image (4).

New message window

Click the “Insert Photo” icon at the bottom of the window.

insert image icon

In the “Insert Photo” window, you can drag an image or browse for one. If the image you’re looking for isn’t in your profile’s “Photos” or “Albums,” then you can browse the web or upload one from your computer.

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Which Processes Can You Safely Quit in Activity Monitor on a Mac? Wed, 20 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000 Anthony Heddings

Activity Monitor

MacOS’s Activity Monitor will give you a list of all the apps you’re running, which is useful for closing down CPU-hungry processes. But it also throws in a bunch of system process, some of which may not be safe to quit. Here’s how to tell the difference.

Who Are All These Users?

Activity Monitor users list

First, you should look at who owns the process. Processes in macOS (and any other Unix-like operating system, including Linux) have owners, tying each process to the user account that started the process. And while you will recognize your user account, there’s a lot of other users on your computer, most of which are managed by the system.

You can see here, on a standard installation of macOS, there are over 250 users managed by the system, most of which start with an underscore:

List of users on macOS

Macs have so many user accounts because of the way permissions work in macOS, and each user has specific permissions. For example, _dock would have permission to access files related to the dock and not much else. This keeps your system more secure by keeping low-level system processes in their own containers.

Important: Since most of these are purely system processes, it’s best never to quit any process whose owner starts with an underscore.

It’s probably safe to close all processes under your user account name since most of them will automatically restart if they’re needed. However, you shouldn’t go too crazy closing everything to save on system performance, as the vast majority of the processes running on your machine are idle. It’s a lot better to leave them there for when they’re needed, instead of spending extra resources having to open them up again.

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How to Pack Your Electronics for Air Travel Wed, 20 Mar 2019 10:40:00 +0000 Andrew Heinzman
A man carrying a heavy bag through an airport
Elnur/Shutterstock 06Photo/Shutterstock

Vacations prove to be a great opportunity to use your electronics away from home. But just this year, the US government banned lithium-ion batteries from checked bags. So, just how are you supposed to pack that laptop?

This isn’t just a question of TSA compliance; this is a question of convenience. If you plan to bring a bunch of large electronics on your next vacation, you need to be able to organize them in your carry-on bag. Otherwise, your flight will be an even bigger annoyance.

You Have to Pack Electronics in a Carry-On Bag

Lithium-ion batteries are a relatively stable source of power. But, if you manage to puncture or overheat a Li-ion battery, it will burst into flames. The US DOT knows that this poses a safety risk for airplanes, and has banned lithium-ion batteries from the cargo area of all passenger flights.

This isn’t just a precaution against bombs and premeditated Li-ion fires. Remember when Samsung phones were blowing up in peoples’ pockets? Yeah, turns out that a malfunctioning or damaged Li-ion battery can accidentally ignite. And the dark, messy cargo area of an airplane is probably the last place where you want to start a fire.

What does this mean for you? Well, you’re going to have to bring all of your Li-ion electronics in a carry-on bag (or in your pocket). With phones or tablets, this isn’t a very big deal. But it can be a major inconvenience if you’re trying to bring a laptop, a Bluetooth speaker, portable batteries, or other large Li-ion electronics on your flight.

Generally, you can bring as many lithium-ion batteries in your carry-on bag as you’d like. Some airlines have their own restrictions, but if you’re only bringing a handful of devices, then you probably don’t have too much to worry about.

Respect the Ban, Even if it Isn’t Enforced

Remember how I told you that lithium-ion batteries are banned from the cargo area of passenger flights? I didn’t lie, but the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t heavily enforcing this ban just yet.

According to the FAA, devices containing lithium-ion batteries “should be kept in carry-on baggage.” But if you ignore the ban and pack these electronics in checked baggage, then “they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation and packed, so they are protected from damage.”

A young couple taking a selfie on an airplane

So, you can technically pack your bags however you’d like. But I’d strongly suggest that you treat the ban as if it’s law. The government is a messy, bureaucratic business. Just because the FAA is treating this ban like it’s a suggestion doesn’t mean your local TSA agents feel the same way. Plus, your electronics are safer in carry-on baggage anyway.

How to Pack for the TSA Checkpoint

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Geek Trivia: Alfred Nobel Established the Nobel Prize After What? Wed, 20 Mar 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

Alfred Nobel Established the Nobel Prize After What?

  1. Doctors saved his son
  2. He read his obituary
  3. His wife died
  4. He lost a bet

Think you know the answer?

Google’s Stadia Streaming Platform is an All-Out Invasion of Gaming Tue, 19 Mar 2019 18:27:38 +0000 Michael Crider
Stadia is Google’s new all-streaming game platform. Google

Today the Game Developer Conference in San Francisco, Google showed off its brand new game streaming service. Stadia (as in the Latin plural of “stadium”) will be available everywhere that Chrome is: PCs, phones, tablets, and televisions, with current hardware.

Google gave us a preview of its system with Project Stream last year. But Stadia is built from the ground up for both streaming and sharing. The service will stream games at up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (depending on your connection, of course), with even more resolution and speed planned for future upgrades. 8K and 120 FPS support is on the roadmap.

At any time players can move the game they’re playing from one device to another, without canceling out or losing progress. And a constantly-running stream of gameplay can be shared to YouTube at any time. The service works on anything that can run an app, including low-cost Chromecasts—the demonstration TV was using a Chromecast Ultra.

Stadia can instantly transfer play from any device, no restarts required. Google

Google’s new platform is indeed, a platform, not merely a series of virtualized Windows PCs as seen on services like OnLive or GeForce NOW. The backbone gives developers an x86 Linux instance running the Vulkan graphics API, with processor and GPU hardware twice as powerful as an Xbox One X or PS4 Pro (so about the same as a high-end gaming PC). Developers can even get the system to run on multiple GPUs if the game requires it.

The streaming hardware is much more powerful than the best current consoles.

What about controlling these games? The system will work with existing “USB controllers” according to Google’s Phil Harrison, as well as standard mice and keyboards. But Google is also releasing a dedicated Stadia controller. It looks more or less the same as a standard Xbox controller, with additional buttons for sharing to YouTube and activating the ever-present Google Assistant. But it’s hiding a new trick: it connects over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth. This allows the controller to connect directly to Google’s Stadia services, controlling the game over the network without a laggy display device in the middle. It’s a big difference to an apparently static design.

The Stadia controller connects directly to game servers over Wifi.
The Stadia controller connects directly to game servers over WiFi. Google

Google’s 100% cloud approach includes some incredible capabilities. Players can click an ad link on YouTube and start streaming that game in a few seconds. Multiplayer games can use multiple Stadia instances to perform local split-screen with no slowdown, or power interactions with huge amounts of players in new ways, like streaming different viewpoints inside a game world controllable via a YouTube viewer. Players can share video live, or even the state of games themselves for other players to jump into their own instance at any time. All games will have multi-platform capabilities available to developers, including save and progress syncing.

A with any game platform, Stadia will live and die on the games. As cool as the platform is, Google needs the support of huge publishers and developers to bring games people actually want into the service. Google showed off partnerships with some big names like Ubisoft and Bethesda (who said that the upcoming DOOM Eternal was already running on the Stadia platform) but was a little cagey on any other big announcements specific to games or developers.

Doom Eternal is one of the only confirmed games on the service at the moment. Google

But that’s not all. Google is also a publisher now: Stadia Games and Entertainment will publish its own games, just like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do for their respective consoles, and it’s being headed by Jade Raymond, formerly of Ubisoft and EA. Stadia will have exclusive titles, all of which have access to Google’s wide suite of cloud tools. Make no mistake, with an attack on hardware, service, and content fronts, Stadia is a no-holds-barred invasion of the gaming industry as we know it.

Google is building its own Stadia-exclusive publisher. Google

When can you try game streaming with Stadia? Google is being a little tentative on that point. The service will come to the US, Canada, the UK, and western Europe sometime later this year. Google’s presentation said that there would be more information available in the summer, so it’s reasonable to expect either a beta program or a full launch in the fall or early winter. Pricing for Stadia, and whether it will be a subscription service, sell games a la carte, or some combination of the two, was not addressed.

Review Geek Is Looking for a Freelance Product Review Writer Tue, 19 Mar 2019 15:30:45 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick
Vintage typewriter on a wooden table

Think you have the perfect combination of product knowledge and writing skills? We’re looking for a few experienced freelance writers to join the team at Review Geek.

What We’re Looking For

We are looking for freelance writers who can research products across a wide spectrum of topics—don’t worry, you’ll be researching products newer than the typewriter above—ranging from travel pillows to tablets and everything in between.

One day we might be looking at external hard drives, and the next we might be looking at Bluetooth-enabled rice cookers. Is that a thing? It’s probably a thing—and if we hire you it might be your job to find the best one.

The work is freelance, with per-article or per-hour compensation depending on the position, where you set your own hours and write articles for us on your schedule. But we aren’t looking for people who simply want to write an article now and then—flexible schedule or not, you’ll need the free time to write consistently.

Interested in applying? You’ll need to meet these minimum requirements:

  • You can write in coherent standard U.S. English. Think it’s silly we have to spell that out? If you read some of the applications we get, you’d put it at the top too.
  • You’re creative and can come up with article ideas, workshop ideas with your colleagues, and contribute to the team culture. Further, and importantly, you can handle feedback and editorial oversight professionally.
  • You must be at least 18 years old and have a computer.
  • You’re good at editing images of all sorts including everything from quick screenshots to product photo touch ups—we’re all about pretty pictures, and you’ll be in charge of stocking your articles with them.

Here are a couple of examples of the types of articles you’d be expected to produce:

How to Apply

Send an email to with the subject Review Geek Writer and include the following in your email:

  • Explain why your skills are worth showcasing to millions of readers each month.
  • Your name and location.
  • Any previous experience you have with writing and/or blogging, particularly on the beat in question (if applicable).
  • Whether or not you are currently employed and, if so, what you do.
  • A brief overview of the topics you are familiar with in the world of technology.
  • Most Important: We want a writing sample. If you have previous writing to showcase, particularly writing with an emphasis on technology, product reviews, or tech-related explainers, include a link to the samples in your email. If you have a personal blog, a forum account, or an active commenter account from anywhere, feel free to include that as well.

Applications without the above information included are discarded, so take a moment to review the bulleted list before sending your email.

We don’t have normal office hours (or even an office) so you can be located anywhere–this is strictly a telecommuting job (although only US residents are eligible for the full-time positions).

Read the remaining 3 paragraphs

Apple Announces an Overdue iMac Refresh Tue, 19 Mar 2019 15:14:57 +0000 Josh Hendrickson an iMac with two external monitors editing video

After nearly two years Apple has updated its iMac line with newer processors and graphics chips as a follow up to its iPad refresh. And just like the new iPad mini, all the changes are on the inside.

New Processors and Graphics Chips, Same Case and Prices

iMac 27 inch

If you thought Apple forgot about its iMac line, it would be understandable. Two years is a long time to wait for an update on a computer line (we’re looking at you Mac Pro). But Apple just updated its store with new iMac options that feature either last year’s processors or this year’s processors, depending on what you choose. All the changes are internal though, from the outside everything looks the same. That’s ok, they looked fine as is and already featured high resolution displays.

You can grab the 21.5-inch iMac with an eighth generation quad-core i3 or a six-core i5 processor. They’ll come with a Radeon Pro 555X GPU or a Radeon Pro 560X respectively to power your display needs. If you need something with more oomph, you can always upgrade to an eighth generation six-core i7 processor with a Radeon Pro Vega 20 GPU. Pricing for the 21.5 inch iMac starts at $1099 and moves up from there.

If you need a bigger display, the 27 inch iMac also gets new processors today. You can choose eighth generation six-core i5 or move up to ninth generation eight core i9 processors. While you’re configuring, you can choose from the Radeon Pro 570X GPU or boost that to the Radeon Pro 580X GPU.

Apple is making a big deal of the new hardware options, pointing out that this is the first time the 21.5 inch iMac could use the Radeon Pro Vega series. The company claims that the new machines have twice the performance compared to the iMacs you could buy just yesterday. That’s believable given the time since the last refresh, but if you’re in the market for an iMac the changes should be welcome.

Apple Also Added New iMac Pro Options

iMac Pro Shopping page

Apple didn’t stop with the regular iMac line, and they have a serious question for you. Would you prefer to have a brand new Fiat 500 or a new iMac Pro? Because for $15,000, you can have the most decked out iMac pro ever.

Apple added on new configuration options for the iMac Pro, and that includes the opportunity to deck your unit out with 256 gigabytes of ram, and a Radeon Pro Vega 64X GPU. But the cost incredibly high. Bumping from 32 gigabytes of ram to 256 adds an eye-watering $5200 to the price tag (about a semester of college). And jumping from the Radeon Pro Vega 56 to the Radeon Pro Vega 64X will set you back an addition $700.

But if you want the most powerful iMac Pro possible, Apple gave you the option if you can afford it.

The Best Ultra Compact Battery Banks Tue, 19 Mar 2019 15:00:18 +0000 Jennifer Allen
Anker PowerCore+ Charger in a grey bag

It’s great to have a battery bank that allows you to charge your smartphone 8 or 9 times before you get anywhere near a power socket, but how often do you actually need to do that? Odds are your life isn’t that electricity free, and a huge-capacity model is overkill. Try one of these pocket-friendly models instead.

Each battery bank featured is small enough for you to put in your pocket or hold easily in your hand. It’s likely that you already carry plenty of different things, so who wants extra weight of a massive 20,000 mAh battery? That’s why all of the ones here are also lightweight so it won’t pull your bag or pocket down too much. Now these battery banks aren’t as feature rich as some of their big cousins—there’s no room here for Qi charging or a bevy of ports—but they’ll still keep your phone topped off or provide an emergency charge, no need to go searching for an outlet.

Here’s our pick of the best ultra compact battery banks currently out there.

Best Overall: Anker PowerCore+ Mini ($20)

Anker PowerCore+ Mini

Where there’s a need for a third-party accessory, Anker generally has things covered. That’s the case with the Anker PowerCore+ Mini. A lipstick-sized portable charger, it recharges in about 3-4 hours using the included micro USB cable. With a capacity of 3350mAh, it has enough juice for over one charge of an iPhone 8 or at least 80% to the Galaxy S8 or similar. The single port outputs at 1A, so don’t expect fast charging and it’s not ideal for tablet use.

For most users, that’s going to be plenty to get them through the day. Its measurements are a mere 3.7 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches and it only weighs 2.8oz so you’ll hardly notice it in your pocket or bag. It’s an ideal fallback plan.

Most Power On A Budget: PowerAdd Slim 2 ($13)

PowerAdd Slim 2

For a higher capacity version of the Anker PowerCore+ Mini, the PowerAdd Slim 2 is a good alternative, albeit at a price. It has a capacity of 5000mAh working out at nearly a third more than the Anker option, but it weighs more and is a little bulkier. It’s still lipstick-shaped but it measures 3.9 x 1.3 x 1.2 inches which may make a difference depending on how little storage space you have. Plus, it weighs in at 4.16oz although that’s not a substantial increase.

If you’re fine with a little more bulk then you’ll be more than happy with the PowerAdd Slim 2. It recharges in about 3-4 hours, identifies the charging requirements of your devices, and, with 2.1A output, happily recharges tablets and Kindles, as well as smartphones. It’s a little more multipurpose in that respect than the Anker, thanks to its extra oomph.

Best Budget Choice: RAVPower Luster Mini ($12)

RAVPower Luster Mini

Sure, there’s only a buck between the PowerAdd and the RAVPower Luster Mini, but if you’re on a tight budget and you want something a little lighter, the RAVPower is the device for you. It measures 4.8 x 2.8 x 1.5 inches so there’s not a lot between the two, however it weighs under 3 ounces which is ideal if every ounce counts.

For that size, you get about the same amount of juice as the Anker option—3350mAh which means just over one full charge of your smartphone but with only 1A of output on the port it’s not recommended for tablet use.

Read the remaining 8 paragraphs

How to Combine Motion Paths in Microsoft PowerPoint Tue, 19 Mar 2019 19:00:00 +0000 Marshall Gunnell

powerpoint logo

You can assign multiple motion paths to a single object in PowerPoint, but if you don’t combine them, the object will reset to its original position before executing the next animation. Combine the motion paths for a smooth, seamless transition.

Assigning and Combining Motion Paths

Let’s assume you have an object that you want to bounce to the left, then drop down a bit into its final position. You can assign a single object with multiple motion paths, but if you don’t combine the motion paths then you’ll end up with something like this:

As you can see, the motion path goes from A > B then A > C instead of the intended A > B > C. Obviously that’s not what we wanted to do. The fix is as simple as clicking and dragging, but before we get into combining motion paths, you first need to assign the animations to our object.

First, select the object to which you will assign multiple motion paths.

Select image

Next, head over to the “Animations” tab and click the “Add Animation” button.

add animations tab

Read the remaining 19 paragraphs

Daily Deals: The Brand New iPad Air for $475, Heavily Discounted Laptops, Games, and More Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:38:34 +0000 Andrew Heinzman Mario Kart 8, the Apple iPad Air, and the Dell Vostro 14
Massgenie, Best Buy, Dell

Need a new laptop, TV, gaming chair, or Nintendo Switch? Maybe you want the new iPad Air at a discount? Now’s a great time to drop a few dollars on some killer deals.

There are some wild deals floating around today, from Dell’s Small Business Sale to the Totalwireless $87 iPhone 6S. But the strangest deal might be the discounted 64GB iPad Air from Best Buy. We’re talking about the brand new iPad Air, the one that won’t come out until March 26th. This new iPad Air, which was announced yesterday, is a powerful machine that could put your laptop to shame. And for $475 dollars, it’s basically the cheapest iPad Pro that money can buy.

Tablets, Phones, and Mobile Accessories

Grab a new phone for cheap, or the new iPad Air at a neat little discount.

  • The New iPad Air 64GB, $475 ($25 off for Best Buy members) [Best Buy]
  • iPhone 6S 32GB, $87 with a Total Wireless Plan or $100 Unlocked [Totalwireless]
  • Anker Soundcore Wireless Earbuds, $50 ($15 off) [Amazon]
  • Sony Xperia 10 Plus 64GB, $330 ($100 off) [Best Buy]

Laptops and Computer Accessories

Need to update your home office? Here are some great laptop and computer deals.

  • Dell Small Business Sale, 35%-40% off Select Computers [Dell]
  • Lenovo Pro Small Business Sale, 25%-50% off Select Computers [Lenovo]
  • Dell Vostro 14, $549 ($240 off with coupon code VOSTRO549) [Dell]
  • Refurbished MacBooks 12″, $929 [Woot via Amazon]
  • LG UltraWide IPS LED Gaming Monitor, $120 ($80 off with coupon code EWCTWUE38) [Newegg]
  • Crucial 240GB SSD, $29 ($10 off with coupon code EWCTWUE25 [Newegg]
  • JUBOR Adjustable Laptop Stand, $13 ($5 off with coupon code 3JUBOR018) [Amazon]
  • Essentials Racing Style Gaming Chair, $69 ($163 off) [Amazon]
  • Google Wi-Fi 3-Pack, $225 ($75 off) [Nordstrom]

Games and TVs

You could save a pretty penny on a Nintendo Switch, or a new QLED TV.

  • Nintendo Switch, $269 ($30 off) [Massgenie]
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, $41 ($20 off) [Massgenie]
  • ViewSonic M1 Portable Projector, $270 ($30 off) [Amazon]
  • Samsung 65″ QLED 4K Smart TV, $1800 ($1000 off) [First Class TVs]
  • Xbox One controller + Wireless Adapter for Windows 10, $45 ($35 off) [B&H]

Everything Else

Need some new flatware, or a premium coffee grinder? We’ve got your back.

  • IKEA 16-Piece Flatware Set, $5 ($6 off) [Ikea]
  • iKan VL35 3.5″ On-Camera LCD Monitor, $135 ($115 off) [B&H]
  • KRUPS Electric Burr Grinder, $95 ($35 off) [Amazon]

Good deals can disappear in the blink of an eye, so don’t wait on that iPad Air or that Nintendo Switch.

The Best Products to Protect Your Furniture from Your Cats Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:00:40 +0000 Andrew Heinzman
The Ultimate Scratching Post, Ronton's Anti-Scratching Tape, and IN HAND Furniture Scratch Guards

Cats need to scratch things, it’s in their nature. But human nature dictates that the couch isn’t for scratching, it’s for sitting. Thankfully, a few good products will keep those claws away from the couch.

Your sofa is actually a terrible scratching surface. Not just for you, but for your cat. See, sofas are soft and flimsy, and cats prefer something that they can really dig their claws into. So, the best way to keep your cat from ruining your furniture is a solid scratching surface, like a sisal pole or a hunk of corrugated cardboard.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Mr Paws already has a $100 floor-to-ceiling scratching post, he just refuses to use it.  There’s a good chance that your cat simply hasn’t realized that the expensive scratching pole is a better scratching surface than the couch. Mr Paws needs a little… convincing. Lucky for you, there are plenty of training products than can attract your cat to a scratch-appropriate surface, and products that can divert your cat’s attention away from the furniture.

There are a lot of scratching and training products on the market, and a lot of them are overpriced or ineffective. That’s why we’ve taken the time to find the best scratching and training products that money can buy.

The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post ($50)

The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post

If you want your cat to stop scratching at your couch, then you’ll need to find a product that appeals to its scratching instinct. A good, strong scratching surface will always look more appealing to a cat than your musky sofa. Thing is, scratching posts can be kind of expensive, and they tend to fall apart quickly.

Thankfully, we’ve had some personal experience with a great, inexpensive scratching post. The SmartCat’s Ultimate Scratching Post is a 32″ tall, it’s lined with a long-lasting sisal mat that cats love to dig into and, best yet, it’s very sturdy. Cats hate flimsy cat trees so the more stable-like-a-real-tree the scratching post is, the better. Pair this thing with some catnip, and your kitty friends will completely forget about the dusty old couch.

Catit Cardboard Scratcher with Catnip ($12)

The Catit Cardboard Scratcher

If your cat likes to scratch furniture throughout the house, then you need to offer multiple scratching solutions. One scratching post in the living room won’t stop your cat from scratching the side of your mattress. Why not grab a couple of Catit cardboard scratchers and call it a day? If your kitty is more into scratching the arms and top of your couch and less into the sides, a horizontal scratcher might be in order.

These cardboard scratchers may be cheap, but they’re cat magnets. Cats love to pin down a hunk of corrugated cardboard and go to town, especially if you sprinkle some catnip in those holes. By the way, the Catit cardboard scratcher comes with a bag of catnip, so you can turn it into the ultimate cat scratcher right out of the box.

IN HAND Flexible Furniture Scratch Gards (6-Piece) ($20)

IN HAND Flexible Furniture Scratch Gards

Even if you give your cats a great new scratching surface, there’s a chance that they’ll keep going for the couch. Hey, that’s what they’re used to. You could pick up your cats and manually drag their paws against that new scratching post, but there’s got to be a better way.

Read the remaining 11 paragraphs

Daily News Roundup: New iMacs, NVIDIA’s Raspberry Pi Competitor, and More Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:33:19 +0000 Cameron Summerson

For the morning of March 19th, 2019, Apple unveiled an updated iMac, NVIDIA showed off a Raspberry Pi competitor, Instagram will let you buy things without leaving the service, Call of Duty is coming to mobile, and a lot more.

Apple News

Yesterday, Apple announced a couple of new/updated iPads with the Air and Mini. Today, it surprised everyone with another announcement: an updated iMac.

  • The new iMac looks the same, but its guts got better. This includes 6 and 8-core chips. [9to5Mac]
  • Similarly, you can add up to 256GB of RAM (for Chrome, probably) if you want. Of course, that also adds $5,200 to the price. Oof. [9to5Mac]
  • Oh, and if you want to buy the thing as maxed out as it comes, that will set you back $15,699. What a bargain. [AppleInsider]
  • That rumored Apple TV service that’s expected to be announced next week? Apparently, Netflix won’t be a part of it. Ouch. [MacRumors]
  • Okay, so this isn’t really “news” per se, but The Verge got to take a look at the first iPhone prototype and it is so cool. Since this isn’t really news, is it called “olds”? 🤔 [The Verge]

Microsoft and Windows News

Like pretty much every day, Microsoft didn’t have a lot going on this morning. But there’s always at least one thing, right?

  • Microsoft is letting PC players check out Halo: The Master Chief collections before it’s released. Neat. [The Verge]
  • I’m not sure if this is Google or Microsoft news, so I’m just putting it here. The two companies worked together for a year to understand a new Windows flaw. That’s the level of comittment I think we can all appreciate. [Ars Technica]

Google and Android News

Compared to most days, Google has been pretty quiet this morning. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that the company is expected to announce its new game streaming service at GDC later today. Keep an eye on Review Geek for coverage of that!

  • Google is beefing up Tasks with time-based notifications and better integration with Gmail and Inbox. [9to5Google]
  • Speaking of Inbox, it’s getting shut down “by April 2nd.” Back to Gmail you go. [Engadget]

Other News

Interestingly, some of the biggest stories are coming from the “other” category today. Mostly because of GDC, but still. Some cool stuff, especially from NVIDIA.

  • NVIDIA announced a Raspberry Pi competitor called Jetson Nano. It’s faster, beefier, and $99er. [Liliputing]
  • Also! It’s bringing ray tracing to some older GTX cards, which is beyond cool. Beyond. [Engadget]
  • NVIDIA also announced a bunch of stuff for GeForce Now. So much stuff. [NVIDIA Blog]
  • Call of Duty is coming to mobile! Android and iOS are both getting a mobile version of the game. It’s so cool to see AAA titles like this show up on mobile. Welcome to the future, enjoy your stay. [Engadget]
  • In VR news, Qualcomm is working on a headset that can be connected to a PC or work as a standalone device. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. [The Verge]
  • Qualcomm also announce da new chip just for smart speakers. Your smart speaker is about to be a smarter speaker. [Engadget]
  • In other VR news, HP announced a new Pro VR headset. [Ars Techinca]
  • Instagram is adding a checkout page directly in the app so you can buy stuff without ever leaving the service. There are so many things I don’t like about this, most of which revolves around how much money it’s going to cost me. [9to5Mac]
  • Firefox hit version 66, which blocks autoplaying videos by default. This is a good step in the war against internet annoyances. [The Verge]
  • Did you watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch on Netflix? Well the company’s next interactive show is “Man vs. Wild” with Bear Grylls. Insert joke about drinking pee here. [Engadget]

There we go—the biggest stories from this morning. Crazy how much happens before…whatever time it is where you live.

Digging the new format? Let me know!

How to Stop Google Maps Review Requests on Android and iPhone Tue, 19 Mar 2019 14:24:00 +0000 Josh Hendrickson

How Was Mo Climbing? notification

If you have Google Maps on your smartphone, you may receive notifications requesting a review for businesses you visit. Google usually asks “How was [Business Name]?” and expects a rating or review. Here’s how to turn those notifications off.

Google Maps Knows Everywhere You Go

Android locations settings options

Many apps request access to your location, even if they don’t need it. You shouldn’t give every app access to your location. But a map app requires location permissions to give you directions. What you may not realize is Google Maps continues to track you even when you’re not using the app thanks to your Google Maps location history.

If you spend much time at a store, for instance, you may get a notification after you’ve left—“How was [Store Name]? Help others know what to expect.” This can be especially annoying if the business in question is where you work. You wouldn’t want to rate the place you work, and if you don’t, you’ll get asked every time you go. These notifications are part of a Maps feature called “Your Contributions,” which solicits ratings and reviews.

Google even has a rewards program called Local Guide, you earn points for contributing, and Google promises you’ll get perks. Google doesn’t spell out what those perks are though, so your mileage may, and you could be giving up a lot of data about where you are for minimal reward.

If you don’t care about perks, and you don’t want the requests to review places you’ve been it’s easy to turn the notification off.

RELATED: How to View and Delete Your Google Maps History on Android and iPhone

How to Turn Off Review Request Notifications

We’ll demonstrate this process with Android, but the process is the same on an iPhone.

Read the remaining 13 paragraphs

How to Use the Console on macOS to Check Log and Activities Tue, 19 Mar 2019 13:00:00 +0000 Anthony Heddings

Console app on macOS

The Console app in macOS is a system-wide viewer for debug messages and log files. You can use it to track down errors in applications or just get an idea for what’s going on in your system.

Most everything in this app is not intended for the average user to view, as it’s made for developers who have a better understanding of the macOS operating system. Warnings and errors are very common during normal use of your computer, so don’t get worried if you see a lot of them here.

Reading The Console

You can launch the Console app from Spotlight by pressing Command+Space and searching for it, or from the Utilities folder in your Applications directory. (Open Finder and select “Applications” to find it.)

The first thing you’ll see is the console itself. This logs every message sent out by processes and services running on your system. It updates very quickly, so you’ll have to use some sorting if you want to make any sense of it.

Console message window

Up in the toolbar, there’s a button called “Now,” which will automatically scroll the window down as new messages come in. This can be useful if you’re trying to debug in real time.

Console toolbar

You can also choose to only view Errors and Faults, which will filter out everything without a red or yellow dot next to it, and only show the important things you might want to see.

Read the remaining 12 paragraphs

How to Hide Bad Tweets with Twitter’s Advanced Filters Tue, 19 Mar 2019 12:00:00 +0000 Oliver Haslam

Foul mouthed Twitter

Twitter can be a great place to be, sharing ideas with like-minded individuals on the opposite side of the globe. But it can be full of abuse, too. That’s where filters come into play, and here’s how they work on the iPhone.

Twitter offers a couple of different ways to filter out the noise when using its official iPhone app. Both of them go some way to preventing people from jumping into your life and offering nothing of value—something Twitter has found itself in the news for all too often. If you’re looking for a way to filter out all the noise but still enjoy everything good that Twitter offers, switching a few toggles might be able to do exactly that.

The settings we’re about to cover only apply to the official Twitter app. We used the iPhone app, but the process is the same on Android. Twitter has taken some important steps towards making its app more usable for those who consider themselves “power users” although it still lacks some features we enjoy elsewhere. Still, Twitter is the app most people are using, so here’s where to find those oh-so-great filters.

How to Enable the Quality Filter

The Twitter Quality Filter will filter out “lower quality content” from the Notifications tab in the Twitter app. Tweets from people you follow or you’ve interacted with will continue to reach you, but if it’s a stranger, you’ll never see it.

RELATED: What Does Twitter’s “Quality Filter” Do?

To turn the Quality Filter on, open Twitter and tap the bell at the bottom of the screen to open the Notifications timeline.

Tap the bell icon

Then, tap the cog in the top-right corner to access the settings.

Read the remaining 19 paragraphs

What Is the Mirai Botnet, and How Can I Protect My Devices? Tue, 19 Mar 2019 10:40:00 +0000 Josh Hendrickson
Shadowed person in a hood typing on a laptop.
Maxim Apryatin/

First discovered in 2016, the Mirai botnet took over an unprecedented number of devices and dealt massive damage to the internet. Now it’s back and more dangerous than ever.

The New and Improved Mirai Is Infecting More Devices

On March 18, 2019, security researchers at Palo Alto Networks unveiled that Mirai has been tweaked and updated to accomplish the same goal on a larger scale. The researchers found Mirai was using 11 new exports (bringing the total to 27), and a new list of default admin credentials to try. Some of the changes target business hardware, including LG Supersign TVs and WePresent WiPG-1000 wireless presentation systems.

Mirai can be even more potent if it can take over business hardware and commandeer business networks. As Ruchna Nigam, a Senior Threat Researcher with Palo Alto Networks, puts it:

These new features afford the botnet a large attack surface. In particular, targeting enterprise links also grants it access to larger bandwidth, ultimately resulting in greater firepower for the botnet for DDoS attacks.

This variant of Miria continues to attack consumer routers, cameras, and other network-connected devices. For destructive purposes, the more devices infected, the better. Somewhat ironically, the malicious payload was hosted on a website promoting a business that dealt with “Electronic security, integration and alarm monitoring.”

Mirai Is a Botnet That Attacks IOT Devices

If you don’t remember, in 2016 the Mirai botnet seemed to be everywhere. It targeted routers, DVR systems, IP Cameras and more. These are often called Internet of Things (IoT) devices and include simple devices like thermostats that connect to the internet. Botnets work by infecting groups of computers and other Internet-connected devices and then forcing those infected machines to attack systems or work on other goals in a coordinated fashion.

Mirai went after devices with default admin credentials, either because no one changed them or because the manufacturer hardcoded them. The botnet took over a massive number of devices. Even if most of the systems weren’t very powerful, the sheer numbers worked could work together to achieve more than a powerful zombie computer could on its own.

Mirai took over nearly 500,000 devices. Using this grouped botnet of IoT devices, Mirai crippled services like Xbox Live and Spotify and websites like BBC and Github by targeting DNS providers directly. With so many infected machines, Dyn (a DNS provider) was taken down by a DDOS attack that saw 1.1 terabytes of traffic. A DDOS attack works by flooding a target with a massive amount of internet traffic, more than the target can handle. This will bring the victim’s website or service to a crawl or force it off the internet entirely.

The original creators of the Marai botnet software were arrested, pleaded guilty, and given terms of probation. For a time, Mirai was shut down. But enough of the code survived for other bad actors to take over Mirai and alter it to fit their needs. Now there’s another variant of Mirai out there.

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Geek Trivia: Which Game Featured A Massive Easter Egg That Originated As A Player Rumor? Tue, 19 Mar 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

Which Game Featured A Massive Easter Egg That Originated As A Player Rumor?

  1. Black & White II
  2. Halo 4
  3. Splinter Cell
  4. Diablo II

Think you know the answer?

How to Hide Spelling and Grammar Errors in a Specific Word Document Mon, 18 Mar 2019 19:00:00 +0000 Marshall Gunnell

word logo

If you want to hide spelling and grammar errors in a specific Word document without all of your other documents being affected by the setting change, then you’re in luck. Microsoft Word, unsurprisingly, has a way to do this.

You might be wondering why you’d want to turn off spellcheck for a specific document in the first place. There is any number of reasons. Perhaps you like leaving the feature on in most documents but have one where it distracts you. Or, perhaps you’ve got a boilerplate where you use filler words (like Word’s Lorem Ipsum feature). Or, maybe you want to test yourself and see how many mistakes you make. Whatever the reason, you can do it in a few simple steps.

Hiding Document-Specific Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

With your document open, switch to the “File” tab.

file tab

Next, select “Options” from the bottom of the left-hand pane.

select options

The “Word Options” window will now appear. Here, select the “Proofing” tab.

proofing tab

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Daily News Roundup: New iPads, Crummy Android Antiviruses, and More Mon, 18 Mar 2019 15:29:41 +0000 Cameron Summerson

A lot happened over the weekend, but the biggest news to start your March 18th, 2019 morning came from Apple with a couple of new iPads. Otherwise, Microsoft released Defender extensions for Chrome and Firefox, and a lot more.

Apple News

Apple doesn’t generally, you know, do a lot when it comes to announcements and all that—it’s far less busy than, say, Google, for example. But when something hits the scene, it’s always big news.

  • New iPads! Apple announced a new iPad Mini with modern specs and Pencil (1st gen) support, as well as an updated iPad Air with a 10.5-inch screen. [Review Geek]

Microsoft and Windows News

Microsoft was pretty quiet over the weekend, but it subtly “announced” a new extension to help keep Chrome and Firefox enterprise users safer. Well, kind of.

  • Microsoft released a Windows Defender Application Guard extension for Chrome and Firefox (for enterprise use). This will allow workplaces to set a whitelist of sites and also let employees use their preferred browser; the extension just opens Edge in WDAG mode when users navigate to a site the enterprise hasn’t configured as trusted. [Windows Blog]

Google and Android News

As always, a lot has already happened with Google since Friday. With the recent release of the Android Q beta for Pixel devices, new features are pretty constant right now.

  • You’ll soon be able to disallow access to motion and light sensors for specific sites in Chrome. It’s being tested in Canary right now, but we should see it in Stable builds later this year. [Techdows]
  • Chrome OS 73 is improved transitions to and from tablet mode on the Slate and other 2-in-1 Chromebooks. [About Chromebooks]
  • There’s a hidden setting in Pixel Launcher on Android Q that hints at better gesture navigation. Please, Google. Please. [XDA Developers]
  • Speaking of hidden settings in Q, there’s another option to remap the Squeeze for Assistant features on the Pixel 2 and 3. [Android Police]
  • New Google Play requirements are going to require all icons to be rounded rectangles moving forward. Some people call them squircles, but I think there’s a slight difference between the two. Anyway, rounded-corner-square-thingies are coming soon to an icon near you. [XDA Developers]
  • Samsung announced an event to announce a new phone. Or phones. New Galaxy A handsets are incoming. [Samsung Mobile Press]
  • Like Facebook Chatheads? Android Q might get them everywhere. [9to5Google]
  • AV-Comparatives compared 250 different Android antivirus apps. Turns out most of the suck and don’t do what they’re supposed to do. Who knew? [AV-Comparatives]
  • ZTE may be making an all-screen phone with a slideout camera. It looks nice. [Engadget]
  • Google could be working an Android fork for feature phones. Intriguing. [9to5Google]
  • Xioami subsidiary Black Shark announced a new gaming phone with a Snapdragon 855 and 12GB of RAM. It looks like of neat, too. [Liliputing]

Other News

You know, the other stuff.

  • Plantronics is rebranding as Poly to bring some buzz back to its product line. A bunch of new stuff is in the works, too. [Engadget]

How to Change the Default Search Engine in Safari on iPhone or iPad Mon, 18 Mar 2019 14:24:00 +0000 Oliver Haslam

Google search

Safari uses Google as its default search engine out of the box, but it’s not the only option. You can choose other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo if you prefer them.

While most modern search engines can find the web sites you’re looking for, there are often ramifications to consider when making your selection. Google is the big player here, but depending on your privacy stance you might want to select something else. For example, DuckDuckGo pushes itself as a more private search engine, while Bing is integrated with Microsoft Rewards. Making the change in Safari on your iPhone or iPad is super simple, so long as you know where to look.

Changing the Default Search Engine in Safari on iPhone and iPad

To get started, open the Settings app and tap “Safari.”

Open Settings. Tap Safari

Next, under the “Search” heading, tap “Search Engine.”

Tap Search Engine

Finally, select the search engine that you would like to use as your default when inside Safari. To select a search engine, tap it. You can choose either Google, Yahoo, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.

Sorry—those are the only options. Apple won’t let you choose other search engines as your default. You can still navigate to those search engines in Safari and search them from their website, but that’s it. The only way you’ll get more options here is if Apple adds them in a future version of the iOS operating system.

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How to Use an MMO or MOBA Mouse For Productivity Mon, 18 Mar 2019 13:00:00 +0000 Anthony Heddings
Corsair MMO Mouse

MMO or MOBA mice are made for games that use a lot of buttons. These mice practically give you an extra keyboard. And you can rebind those keys to whatever you want, including hotkeys and macros.

We’ll be using the Corsair Scimitar as an example in this guide, as it’s inexpensive ($59.99) and has great software. We also love Razer’s NAGA Trinity ($74.92), naming it one of our best gaming mice. The same general instructions should work for any mouse as long as you can rebind its buttons.

How Those Mouse Buttons Can Help

Out of the box, there’s not much having extra buttons does for you right away; you have to bind the macros yourself to fit your needs. Try to think of anything that wastes your time, even small things. It doesn’t have to be huge—a second or two saved on something you do hundreds of times a day adds up over time and makes your work feel a lot snappier.

For example, I work on a MacBook and prefer using a mouse in addition to the built-in trackpad. Switching between desktops on macOS is easy with the trackpad, but to do it while using a mouse I’d have to hold the Ctrl key and press an arrow key, which would use my right hand anyway. So I’ve bound switch desktop left and right to 4 and 5 on the mouse’s numpad, which saves me from moving my arm around so much. On a smaller scale, I do the same for switching back and forth between Chrome tabs (and any other app that has tabs) using 1 and 2 for left and right, rather than using hotkey combinations or clicking top bar with the mouse.

By the way, Windows has the same kind of virtual desktop switching as macOS does, but you might not have even noticed if you don’t know the hotkeys (Windows+Control+Arrow Keys). Binding these to mouse buttons makes Windows virtual desktops much easier to use, and will help clean up your cluttered mess of windows.

Keyboard shortcut aficionados will still swear by their methods. For some apps, having both hands on the keyboard is much quicker than using a mouse in the first place, which is something every vim user can attest to. But, on a modern system, you’re going to use a mouse at some point. It’s best to make the most of it and not let it slow you down, especially if you have a mouse with loads of buttons anyway.

Configuring Your Mouse

Corsair Utility Engine

Setup will depend on the mouse you own and its software, but most mouse manufacturers’ utilities will let you do similar things. Corsair’s Utility Engine is very powerful, offering full macro support and multiple profiles. You can configure one button to press an array of key combinations, so the options you have are fairly limitless.

Profile switching is an extremely useful feature, as it essentially allows you to nest macros behind other buttons. I have 10, 11, and 12 set to switch to different profiles, and then switch back after another button is pressed. This gives me 45 different slots to fit macros into, although I certainly haven’t filled them up yet. You can configure different profiles for different apps, and a separate one for gaming which will leave the number keys unaffected.

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