How-To Geek We Explain Technology Mon, 22 Jul 2019 17:47:12 +0000 en-us hourly 1 How to Make Word Documents Fillable but Not Editable Mon, 22 Jul 2019 15:23:20 +0000 Marshall Gunnell

word logo

If contracts are part of your daily workflow, you know how frustrating it is when people change parts of the document or form they shouldn’t. Fortunately, Microsoft Word has a developer tool that lets you protect the text in your document while still allowing people to fill in blanks.

Making Your Document Fillable, Not Editable

Let’s say, for example, that you have a non-disclosure agreement that you want to send out to an employee that will be joining your company. You want to give the receiving individual the ability the fill in the blanks in the document, but you also want to ensure that none of the information in the NDA is altered or changed in any way. It only takes a few steps to achieve this in Word. Here’s how.

First, grab the legal document you want to work with. Microsoft provides a few basic templates, but there are also a lot of websites that provide detailed, comprehensive legal templates online for free, drawn up by actual attorneys. In this example, we’ll be using an NDA that we grabbed from the above link.

Once you have your document pulled up, it’s time to add some controls and protection to it. First, you need to get into the “Developer” tab. Word doesn’t display this on the ribbon by default, so let’s go ahead and fix that.

Click “File.”

File tab in Word

At the very bottom of the menu, select “Options.”

Options in Word

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Daily News Roundup: Tinder Swipes Left on Google Pay Mon, 22 Jul 2019 15:20:07 +0000 Josh Hendrickson

When Google Apps take payments using Google Pay, Google takes a cut of the money. Now Tinder, the dating service app, wants to avoid that fee by setting its payments service as the default option.

Google takes a 30% cut of in-app purchases. If the app offers a subscription, that amount drops down to 15% after the first year. Apple takes the same amount from purchases in its apps.

Some app developers, however, feel the amount is too high. In some cases, this is coupled by complaints that Google and Apple develop competing services that don’t feel the pain of losing 30% of a sale (such as Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music).

Google (and Apple) requires app developers to use its payment system, but Tinder is ignoring that policy in a new update. Instead, the default payment option is through Tinder’s payment processor. Users input their credit card directly into the app, in lieu of using Google Pay. Since Tinder is handling the entire payment, Google doesn’t get a cut of the purchase.

While users can switch the default method to Google Pay before they’ve made the first payment, once they’ve chosen to make a payment directly to Tinder the app saves the credit card details and removes the Google Pay option.

Google hasn’t said yet if it plans to take any action against the policy violation. [Engadget]

In Other News:

  • Google’s Fast Pair will add features for Truly Wireless headphones: Android Q will add a few features to Bluetooth Fast pair that should make using Truly Wireless headphones a better experience. Android will show battery life for each earbud and the charging case. Additionally, the “find my device” feature will also report the last known headphone location. Awesome. [TechRadar]
  • Equifax will pay up to $700 million for losing your data: In 2017, Equifax failed to patch a known flaw on its servers that led to a massive breach of its systems. 146 million users had everything from drivers license details to social security numbers stolen. Now Equifax is close to settling claims against it, and in the process paying out as much as $700 million. The company will also offer six free credit reports per year to users for seven years. [ZDNet]
  • Asus announces the ROG Phone 2, a beast of a gaming phone: Asus took the wraps off its latest gaming phone, and on paper, it should be powerful and look gorgeous. The ROG Phone 2 features a Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 12 GBs of ram (still not enough for Chrome), a 6,000 mAh battery, and a 120 Hz FHD+ HDR display. And it has a 48-megapixel camera. What we don’t know is the price. [9to5Google]
  • Marvel announced a HulkTonne of movie and tv projects for Phase Four: Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially ended with Avengers: End Game (and perhaps the latest Spider-Man film). But Marvel isn’t done: it just announced ten movies and TV series for Phase Four, made up of a mix of prequels, sequels, and a few original movies sprinkled in. Notably absent? Another Avengers film. [The Verge]

You can play with a moon rock on your smartphone. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, NASA released incredibly details models of one of the lunar soil samples Neil Armstrong brought to Earth. By visiting a simple link, you can twist, turn, and zoom in on the highly detailed recreation of the moon rock. Unless you’re a lucky scientist, it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to holding a lunar rock. [TechCrunch]

How to Enable Text Prediction for a Hardware Keyboard on Windows 10 Mon, 22 Jul 2019 14:24:18 +0000 Chris Hoffman

Windows 10 wallpaper.

Windows 10 offers predictive text, just like Android and iPhone. Microsoft calls this “text suggestions.” It’s part of Windows 10’s touch keyboard, but you can also enable it for hardware keyboards. Suggestions will appear floating over text as you type.

This setting is available in Windows 10’s Settings app. To launch it, press Windows+I or open the Start menu and click the gear-shaped Settings icon.

Click the gear-shaped Settings icon.

Click the “Devices” icon in the Settings window.

Click the "Devices" icon.

Click “Typing” in the sidebar. Scroll down to the “Hardware keyboard” section and enable the “Show text suggestions as I type” option.


Click "Typing" in the sidebar. Scroll down to the "Hardware keyboard" section and click to toggle-On "Show text suggestions as I type."

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How to Use the look Command on Linux Mon, 22 Jul 2019 13:00:03 +0000 Dave McKay
Linux terminal running on an Ubuntu-themed desktop environment.
Fatmawati Achmad Zaenuri/Shutterstock

The Linux look command races through a file and lists all the lines that begin with a particular word or phrase. But watch out! It behaves differently on different Linux distributions. This tutorial will show you how to use it.

Ubuntu’s look Command Behaves Differently

For a simple, but useful, command, look certainly gave me the runaround when I was researching this article. There were two problems: compatibility and documentation.

This article was checked using Ubuntu, Fedora, and Manjaro. look was bundled with each of those distributions, which was great. The problem was the behavior wasn’t the same across all three. The Ubuntu version was very different. According to the Ubuntu Manpages, the behavior should be the same.

I eventually figured it out. look traditionally uses a binary search, while Ubuntu look uses a linear search. The online Ubuntu man pages for Bionic Beaver (18.04), Cosmic Cuttlefish (18.10), and Disco Dingo (19.04) all say the Ubuntu version uses a binary search, which is not the case.

If we take a look at the local Ubuntu man page, we see it clearly states their look uses a linear search. There is a command-line option to force it to use a binary search. Neither of the versions in the other distributions has an option to choose between search methods.

man look

"man look" in a terminal window.

Scrolling down through the man page, we see the section that describes this version of  look using a linear instead of binary search.

Ubuntu look man page in a terminal window.

The moral of the story is to check the local man pages first.

Linear Search versus Binary Search

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How to Reboot Your Router and Modem Mon, 22 Jul 2019 12:00:19 +0000 Chris Hoffman
Wireless router on a table.
Casezy idea/Shutterstock

If web pages aren’t loading or streaming video keeps buffering, resetting your router and modem is one of the first things you should try, as it can fix a slew of Wi-Fi or Internet connection problems.

This works just like rebooting your Windows PC when you’re having issues. The software on your router and modem will shut down and restart in a fresh state. When you restart your modem, it will reconnect to your Internet service provider (ISP). Some routers—especially older ones—can slow down over time as they run. This is a software problem, and a quick restart can fix it.

Locate Your Router and Modem

Your wireless router likely has visible antennas. It’s the device that hosts your Wi-Fi network. Your router plugs into your modem, which is the device that communicates with your Internet service provider.

These might not be two separate devices. Some ISPs offer combined router and modem units, so you might only have one device to reboot.

If you’re in doubt, find your wireless router and see what it’s plugged into. If it’s plugged directly into an outlet, it’s likely a combined unit. If it’s plugged into another device, that then plugs into an outlet, you have two devices, and the other one is your modem.

Restart Your Router and Modem

This is a simple process, and you won’t be doing anything fancy. You’ll lose your Internet connection and Wi-Fi during the restart process, but everything will automatically reconnect in a few minutes.

First, unplug the power from both your router and modem (or just the one device, if it’s a combined unit). You should see a power connection on the back of each device.

Power and cable connections on the back of a router.

We recommend waiting at least ten seconds before plugging them back in; wait for 30 if you want to be thorough.

Waiting ensures the capacitors in your router and modem completely discharge and forget any settings. It also ensures that the modem loses its connection with your ISP and will have to re-establish it. Waiting might not always be necessary, but it ensures that everything is fully shut down and ready to start fresh.

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How to Write a Compelling Cover Letter Mon, 22 Jul 2019 06:40:54 +0000 Elyse Hauser
A man's hands holding a letter over his desk and laptop.

Even in the age of digital job applications, cover letters are still relevant. Here’s how to write a great one!

Writing a resume is hard enough (although, our series of resume guides will help), but a potential employer also expects you to send her a cover letter explaining why you’re right for the job. How can you write a compelling letter for every job you apply for?

The key is not to approach each letter like a brand-new document. Although cover letters require more customization than resumes, there are still some formulas you can use to make the task easier.

Whether you’re writing your first or 50th cover letter, we can help. Here’s everything you need to know to write great cover letters and get more job interviews!

Formatting Your Cover Letter

Your cover letter should follow the standard letter format and include some essential basics. The good news is once you’ve made one cover letter, you have a template you can use for the rest.

The proper business letter format features your contact information at the top of the page. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address.

Below that, skip a line and type today’s date (“January 1, 2020,” not “1/1/20”). Skip another line and type the employer’s contact information. Start with the name and title of the hiring manager (if you have it), followed by the company’s name and address.

Skip another line and add the salutation (“Dear Mr./Ms. [Name],” or use their full name if you don’t know their gender). If you don’t know who you’re writing the letter to, you can use something generic like, “Dear hiring manager.” Avoid, “To whom it may concern,” as it sounds dated. It’s always best to use a name, if possible—and the internet usually makes it easy to find out who you’re sending your letter to.

After that, you can begin the letter, which should be about three paragraphs. Then, you include a formal closing, like “Sincerely” or “Respectfully yours,” followed by your name and signature.

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Your Next SSD Might Be Slower (Thanks to QLC Flash) Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:40:43 +0000 Anthony Heddings

Newer isn’t always better. Recently, SSD manufacturers have begun to trade off speed and reliability in the interest of cramming more storage space into their drives. Protocols like NVMe and PCIe are getting faster, but some SSDs are going backward.

QLC Flash Is The Problem

Here’s the issue. Making SSDs is expensive, and few people want to pay $200 for a 512 GB SSD when you can get “2000 GB” mechanical hard drives for less than $50. Bigger capacities sell.

SSD manufacturers are increasing storage capacities while keeping costs down—but this is bad for performance and endurance. Large SSDs may be getting cheaper, but there’s a tradeoff for each leap in SSD technology. We’re currently seeing the rise of Quad Level Cell (QLC) SSDs, which can store 4 bits of information per memory cell. QLC hasn’t replaced standard SSDs completely, but a few drives using it have made their way to the market, and they’ve got problems.

Specifically, SSD manufacturers have to find a way to fit more space into the same sized NAND flash chips (the actual data-storing part of the SSD). Traditionally, this was done with a process node shrink, making the transistors inside the flash smaller. But as Moore’s Law slows down, you’ve got to get more creative.

The ingenious solution is multi-level NAND flash. NAND flash is capable of storing a specific voltage level in a cell for an extended period. Traditional NAND flash stores two levels—on and off. This is called SLC flash, and it’s really fast. But since NAND essentially stores an analog voltage, you can represent multiple bits with slightly different voltage levels, like so:

Voltage levels increase exponentially with higher memory density
Anthony Heddings

The problem, as shown here, is that it scales up exponentially. SLC flash only requires voltage or lack thereof. MLC flash requires four voltage levels. TLC needs eight. And in the last year, QLC flash has been making a break into the market, requiring 16 separate voltage levels.

This leads to a lot of problems. As you add more voltage levels, it gets harder and harder to tell the bits apart. This makes QLC flash 25% denser than TLC but significantly slower. The read speed isn’t affected that much, but the write speed takes a dive. Most SSDs (using the newer NVMe protocol) hover around 1500 MB/s for sustained read and write (i.e., loading or copying large files). But QLC flash only manages between 80-160 MB/s for sustained writes, which is worse than a decent hard drive.

QLC SSDs Break Down Much Quicker

All SSDs generally have unfavorable write endurance compared to hard drives. Whenever you write to a cell in an SSD, it slowly wears out. Erasing a cell is supposed to rid it of electrons, but a few always stick around, causing a “0” cell to be closer to “1” over time. This gets compensated for by the controller by applying a more positive voltage over time, which is fine when you’ve got a lot of voltage room to spare. But QLC doesn’t.

SLC has an average write endurance of 100,000 program/erase cycles (write operations). MLC has between 35,000 and 10,000. TLC has around 5,000. But QLC only has a measly 1,000. This makes QLC unsuitable for frequent access drives, like your boot drive, that are written to very frequently.

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AfterShokz Air Bone Conduction Headphones: My Fave Workout Accessory Mon, 22 Jul 2019 06:40:29 +0000 Cameron Summerson
AfterShokz Air bone conduction headphones
Cameron Summerson

For runners, cyclists, or anyone else who works out in Mother Nature, it can be dangerous if you also like to listen to music. The solution? Get yourself a set of bone conduction headphones.

I’ve been using the Air by AfterShokz for close to a year now when I ride my bike, and these headphones have been one of the most game-changing pieces of equipment I’ve ever picked up. I’m free to go outside and ride, keep the music flowing for motivation, and still hear everything around me—cars, dogs, people, etc. I can even hold a conversation if I’m riding with other people without removing an earbud or pausing the music. It’s incredible!

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “What the hell is this guy talking about? What are bone conduction headphones?” We have a deep explainer over at How-to Geek, but the short version is they bypass your outer ear and transmit sounds directly to your inner ear by way of vibrations on your skull. This keeps your ears open to hear everything going on around you while still allowing you to enjoy music or podcasts. I don’t want to go as far as saying they’re life-changing, but man, they’re pretty damn close.

Aftershokz Trekz Air headphone speakers and pads.
The speakers and “pads” that rest on your cheekbones. Cameron Summerson

Before I picked up the Air, I was a skeptic. But after finally getting a set on my skull, it took one ride to make me a true believer. It wasn’t just any ride, either. It was 70 miles of mixed terrain badassery—one of the hardest gravel courses I’ve ever ridden. And the Air (back then, they were called the “Trekz Air”) blew me away.

A year counts as “soon,” right?

What’s most incredible to me is, not only do they allow me to hear what’s going on around me and hold conversations with other cyclists, but the way the music sort of falls into the background when other sounds require my attention.

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Geek Trivia: Prior To The Advent Of Petrol-based Lubricants, What Was The Best Lubricant Available? Mon, 22 Jul 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

Prior To The Advent Of Petrol-based Lubricants, What Was The Best Lubricant Available?

  1. Castor Oil
  2. Ambergris
  3. Spermaceti
  4. Tallow

Think you know the answer?

How to Check a Used Car’s History Before You Buy It Sun, 21 Jul 2019 06:40:39 +0000 Hayley Milliman
Man and woman looking at cars at a car lot.
Nestor Rizhniak/Shutterstock

Before you buy a used car, it’s always a good idea to check the vehicle’s history and get the full story. Here’s how to make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

Buying a used car is an excellent option if you need a new set of wheels, but don’t have thousands of dollars to drop on something fresh off the lot. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get duped when you buy a used car. There are tons of horror stories about people buying cars with serious mechanical issues or finding out their new car was stolen from its original owner.

So, how do you protect yourself when buying a used car? You use the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to research its history and make an informed decision about purchasing.

What’s a VIN and Why Is It Important?

When purchasing a used car, you should always find out the vehicle’s VIN. A VIN is a string of 17 letters and numbers that act as a vehicle’s social security number. No two cars have the same VIN, so you can use it to look up a vehicle’s history. When you look up a VIN, you get access to information like registration, recalls, service records, and more.

Drawing showing where to find the VIN on a car.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

You can find a car’s VIN by looking on the driver’s side front door or at the front corner where the windshield meets the dashboard. VINs are also recorded on a car’s insurance card, title, and registration. It’s ideal to see the VIN yourself and snap a photo with your smartphone rather than accepting the VIN from the seller, unseen.

Why Should I Check the VIN When Buying a Car?

You should always check the VIN before you purchase a new or used car. When you do so, you get a basic history of the car, including claims of theft, damage, or accidents. Imagine driving a stolen car off the lot. That’s an extreme example, but not unheard of. If you run a VIN check, you can avoid some of these major problems.

A VIN check also reveals if something happened to the car that might compromise its ability to run safely. You can also get service records for the car and find out if it’s had regular maintenance, like oil changes.

If you’re purchasing a car from a reputable dealership, they give you a VIN report free of charge before you buy the car. Your salesperson should go over the report with you. The report will provide you with lots of info on the car, including how many owners it’s had, any accidents it’s been involved in, any insurance claims that have been filed on it and whether it’s facing an open recall.

What Should You Look for in a Car’s VIN Report?

Gauges on a car's dashboard.
Song Pin/Shutterstock

If the dealership has given you a car’s history report, what should you look for? There’s usually a lot of information in there, but here are the most important things you should consider.

Is It Legal?

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5 Smarthome Devices You Shouldn’t Buy Sun, 21 Jul 2019 10:40:19 +0000 Josh Hendrickson
young woman holding a wallet on fire
Denis Val/Shutterstock

Not all smarthome devices make sense to buy. Many are expensive, hard to use, and offer little if any benefit compared to a typical “dumb” device. Do you really need a smart pillow or a smart fridge? No, you don’t.

Smart Fridges Go Obsolete Quickly

Samsung Smart fridge

When you buy an appliance like a stove or a fridge, you usually expect it to last many years. They are significant investments and typically expensive, so you don’t want to replace them every two or three years. Smart fridges only add to that investment, and in some cases cost $800 more than their “dumb” equivalent.

You might be able to justify the extra cost if the refrigerator lasts as long, but manufacturers have a terrible track record when it comes to maintaining the software in a smart fridge. Because of that fact, your expensive refrigerator may not even last a decade. And the features they provide, like a touch screen interface or voice assistant, can typically be replicated by a tablet. You’d be better off buying a normal refrigerator and mounting a tablet to the door. At least then if the tablet becomes obsolete, you can throw it out and keep the fridge.

RELATED: Your Expensive Smart Appliance May Not Last A Decade

Your Toilet Doesn’t Need Bluetooth

A Numi smart toilet
Believe it or not, that boxy shaped thing is a smart toilet. Kohler

Even at first glance, it’s hard to get behind the concept of a smart toilet. And the recommendation against buying one is a perfect example of too much complication and expense for not enough benefit.

Consider what smart some toilets offer: heated seats, night lights, remote controls, Bluetooth speakers, and adjustable water temperature. Some offer touch screens to set preferences; others boast better water usage.

But you could replicate some those features, like the Bluetooth speakers and night lights, and still use a standard toilet. You’d save money too; smart toilets can cost anywhere between $900 and $8000. And that often doesn’t include the cost of installation, which may call for an electrician if you don’t have convenient wiring for your toilet.

A standard toilet doesn’t call for electrical work and can range anywhere from $100 to $320 depending on optional features like a dual flush system, which saves on water usage.

Smart Pillows Aren’t Even Pillows

Woman sleeping on a ZEEQ Smart pillow

Smart pillows are an odd offering. They promise to do everything from track your sleep, to measuring your heart rate, to even stop you from snoring. But they’re not inexpensive. A smart pillow will often run in the $200 range.

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Geek Trivia: What Small Token Is Secreted Aboard NASA’s Juno Spacecraft? Sun, 21 Jul 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

What Small Token Is Secreted Aboard NASA’s Juno Spacecraft?

  1. Aluminum LEGO Minifigures
  2. George Takei's Thumbprint
  3. Ray Bradbury's Ashes
  4. A U.S. Presidential Pen

Think you know the answer?

Plugable’s Phone Cube Is the Best Option for Samsung DeX (If You’re Into That) Sat, 20 Jul 2019 08:00:54 +0000 Michael Crider
Plugable's Phone Cube, a Samsung Phone, and a stylus sitting on a desk next to a computer monitor.

Do you want to use your Samsung phone as a portable, dockable PC? Based on my testing of the DeX feature, probably not. But, if you beg to differ, the Plugable Phone Cube is probably the best way to do it.

Some Very Particular Ports

The Cube is nothing more (or less) than a good-looking, compact USB-C hub with dedicated power. It’s certified for the DeX system, which allows Samsung’s high-end phones to plug into a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and pretend to be an Android-based desktop PC. (A bad one—but that’s not this product’s fault.) The Cube isn’t the only gadget that does this—Samsung sells multiple DeX docking stations, and plenty of third-party USB-C docks can handle this function—many at a lower price.

Samsung phone connected by a USB-C cable to a Plugable Phone Cube.
A single USB-C cable gets you HDMI, a mouse, a keyboard, storage, and Ethernet. Michael Crider

But the Cube offers a usability boost. Samsung’s first DeX design resembled an old-fashioned Palm charger cradle. This doesn’t work with the new touchpad tool, which turns your phone’s screen into a laptop-style touchpad, so you don’t need a mouse. Samsung’s case-style DeX dock allows for this, but it’s limited in terms of expansion. Third-party docks are more like large dongles, and they lack touchpad usability and external charging power. The Cube hits all of these points, and it’s the best all-around option in an admittedly niche field.

Party in the Back

The physical design of the Cube is, well, cubical. There’s a USB-C port on the front. On the back, you find two rectangular USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port for accessories and data, a single HDMI port (which supports up to 4K resolution), and an Ethernet port for wired networking. The Cube comes with a wall-wart charger that can output 15 watts to your phone.

The back of the Plugable Phone Cube.
There’s a good selection of ports for such a small dock, but I still miss dedicated audio. Michael Crider

The layout is simple and appealing, with a glowing blue LED strip on the bottom that’s fun without being distracting. But there are a couple of changes I would make after using it for a while. The dock could sacrifice some aesthetic appeal for utility by moving one of the standard USB ports to the front, so you don’t have to reach around to the back of the device to plug in a flash drive. PC manufacturers figured this out decades ago, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to Plugable’s design team. I would also like a headphone jack on the dock for displays without speakers or audio-out options (which is quite common if you’re using cheap or business-class monitors).

Using the Cube for DeX is frustrating, but not due to the hardware itself. As an Android-based system, DeX has some considerable limitations in terms of app management and interface. But this review isn’t about that (check out this video if you’re curious). If you’re committed to the DeX system, which is available on the Galaxy S8, S9, S10, Note 8, and Note 9, you won’t have any problems using it here.

Monitor with three windows open.
Turning your phone into a desktop sounds cool, but using it is like…using a bad desktop.

I was able to use mice and keyboards over USB or pair them directly to the phone via Bluetooth. I was also able to (awkwardly) access external storage and networking via the standard ports. Video and audio were rock-solid on my monitor, even though my Note 8 was limited to 1080p resolution. It all works, it’s just not a great way to get anything done when compared to, say, an inexpensive Chromebook or even an iPad. The awkward transitions between mobile and windowed desktop apps—and the limited power of the phone—feel stifling.

Lack of Flexibility

Can you use the Cube for other stuff? Sure! It works as a standard USB-C dock, and I was able to plug in my HP Chromebook x2 and access all the same features, including video-out. But since the Cube is designed first and foremost for use with phones, the power output via the USB-C port is limited to only 15 watts, so my laptop didn’t charge while it was connected. It’ll do in a pinch, but it’s not ideal if you need something for more conventional PC-style docking. And you run into the same problems with no easily-accessible USB port and no dedicated audio-out options.

A keyboard and phone connected to a Plugable Phone Cube.
The ability to easily use your phone’s screen as a touchpad without sacrificing dock ports is a big plus. Michael Crider

In terms of value, the Cube is a tough sell for anyone except those looking to use it for DeX. There are cheaper options for both USB-C hubs and DeX-only docks, although, few of them offer the option of easily using your phone as a touchpad at the same time. Because using your phone as a dockable computer requires a keyboard and a monitor (a $200 investment, at the very least), I don’t think $100 for the most flexible DeX dock option out there is an unreasonable additional investment.

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How to Budget for Travel Costs Sat, 20 Jul 2019 06:40:41 +0000 Harry Guinness
Sunglasses, a sun hat, a passport, and money sitting on top of a world map.

Travel is expensive, and it’s easy to under budget. Here’s how to budget more accurately for your vacation.

On any trip, you have four major expenses: transport, accommodation, food and drink, and activities. You also have two other expenses you might forget to include: travel insurance and incidentals (souvenirs, bottled water, and so on). Let’s break down each expense and how you can better prepare for each of them.


Transport to your destination is often the biggest cost. Flights—especially internationally—aren’t cheap. They can turn a cheap week away into a budget-blowing, once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The Kayak homepage.

Flight prices are relatively easy to budget for, though. Check websites like Kayak or Skyscanner to compare prices on a few dates you’re considering and book those that work best. You have to purchase the tickets in advance, so the expense is locked in long before you leave.

Transport after you arrive at your destination is trickier and can also be quite pricey. It’s helpful to consider:

  • How you’re getting to and from the airport, both at home and abroad. Four, $30 taxi trips will cost an extra $120.
  • How you’re getting around daily at your destination. Is there a good public transport network? If so, is there a daily unlimited pass? Are you going to have to Uber? Do a bit of research, and budget accordingly.
  • If you need to rent a car. If so, be sure to include the cost of any insurance you might need along with the rental fee.
  • If you’ll be traveling between destinations once you’re there. Train tickets are expensive and, like flights, better booked in advance.

The good thing about transport is, as long as you do your research in advance, you won’t be surprised by the costs.


Along with transportation, where you stay is another significant cost of traveling. Again, though, as you’re most likely to book it in advance, it’s predictable.

The first thing to do is to decide what kind of accommodation you want. Generally, hostels are the cheapest, Airbnbs are somewhere in the middle, and hotels are the most expensive. You can usually get a hostel bed for about $25 per night, an Airbnb for around $100 per night, or a hotel room for close to $150 per night (of course, there are exceptions to all of these).

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How to Play Games on a Mac in 2019 Sat, 20 Jul 2019 10:40:05 +0000 Tim Brookes
Sony's DualShock 4 wireless controller with a MacBook
Peter Kotoff/

Think owning a Mac means you can’t play games? Think again. The Mac gaming ecosystem is robust. From brand new releases to retro classics and even Windows-only titles; there’s plenty of fun to be had on a Mac.

Why You Should (Probably) Skip the Mac App Store

The Mac App Store is full of games. These include big-budget $60 releases like Civilization VI, short indie experiences like Oxenfree, and the kind of casual games you’d find on the iPhone like Donut County. To browse the catalog, open up the Mac App Store app then click on the “Play” tab from the sidebar.

Unfortunately, the Mac App Store isn’t always the best place to buy your games from. It’s often more expensive than other storefronts, and it suffers from too few new releases and a lack of reviews on many items due to relatively low patronage.

Civilization VI on the Mac App Store

Multiplayer games, in particular, have always had issues on the Mac App Store. id Software opted to cut multiplayer entirely from their 2011 shooter RAGE when it was released, and the game has since disappeared from the platform. Gearbox Software’s Borderlands was released on the Mac App Store with rewritten multiplayer support to accommodate Apple’s own Game Center APIs. The game has also disappeared from the service.

Contrast that with Steam, which enjoys far more players on Windows, Linux, and Mac with full support for cross-play. Apple ditched the standalone Game Center app in 2016, but the service lives on as an optional feature that developers can implement. It’s unclear whether Apple still requires multiplayer games to use its own APIs, but most multiplayer games skip the App Store entirely.

With the arrival of Apple’s anticipated porting of iOS apps to the macOS platform sometime in 2019, we could see a lot more iOS experiences arriving on the Mac App Store. That will make it much easier for developers to port their games to the Mac, but you’ll probably be better off playing these games on an iPhone or iPad instead.

Apple’s upcoming subscription gaming service Apple Arcade will also be Mac-compatible. The service launches in fall 2019 on the App Store and promises an ad-free experience, and cross-play between Mac, iOS, and Apple TV. When it launches, Apple Arcade will be another attempt at a “Netflix for games” service, with the main twist being a focus entirely on Apple devices.

Get Games from Steam, GOG, and Other Stores

If you want the latest big-budget releases, particularly multiplayer games, then you’ll need to turn to a third-party storefront like Steam. Valve’s distribution service has been the king of digital game downloads for well over a decade, and it enjoys more users than any other gaming service.

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Geek Trivia: Which Actor’s Portrayal Of A Physical Disability Actually Injured Him? Sat, 20 Jul 2019 06:02:00 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

Which Actor’s Portrayal Of A Physical Disability Actually Injured Him?

  1. Patrick Stewart
  2. Rip Torn
  3. Terry O'Quinn
  4. Hugh Laurie

Think you know the answer?

How to Make Sure You’re Buying the New Switch Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:39:13 +0000 Cameron Summerson
Nintendo Switch

Nintendo recently announced a new version of the Switch console with better battery life. The issue is that the improved model isn’t marketed as a “new” Switch, so it may be hard to know which one you’re buying.

The good news is that if you do your due diligence when shopping for the console, you can score the updated model pretty easily. But first, a few caveats.

  • The new Switch won’t be available until AugustIf you want the newer version of the console, you’ll need to wait till August. There still isn’t a firm date yet, which sort of muddies the water.
  • If you want to make sure you get the new model, you’ll need to buy it in person. It’ll be almost impossible to verify which console you get when ordering online, especially initially. As you’ll see when we get into the details, you need to go eyes-on with the box to verify that you’re getting the updated model. So, for at least the foreseeable future, I would focus on buying in stores.

Alright, with that out of the way, here’s what to look for to make sure you get the newest Switch.

Look at the Box

While Nintendo isn’t marketing this as a “new” switch—it’s just a slightly tweaked version of the existing console, after all—it is putting the kit in a new box. The current box, which it has been using since the Switch was released, looks like this:

Original Nintendo Switch box

The updated box, however, gets a bit of a makeover with significantly more red:

New Nintendo Switch box

That by itself makes it pretty easy to tell which Switch you’re getting—if you grab the old box, make sure you switch it to the new one. But if you want to make damn sure that you get the new one, you can also check the unique identifiers.

Check the Model and Serial Numbers

Once you get that mostly-red box in your hands, you’ll want to verify the model number to make sure Nintendo didn’t pull a fast one and put an older switch into a newer box.

The new Switch carries the model number HAC-001(-01). The older Switch, by contrast, is just HAC-001. So there’s an extra bit of info at the end of the new console’s model number.

There’s also a slight tweak to the serial numbers. The new Switch’s serial number will start with “XKW,” while the original model’s starts with “XAW.” Nothing to it.

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How to Mirror and Control Your Android Phone on Any Windows PC Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:34:33 +0000 Chris Hoffman

Android phone screen mirrored to a Windows 10 desktop with scrcpy

Windows 10’s new Android screen-mirroring feature only works with a handful of phones and PCs. Here’s how you can mirror nearly any Android phone’s screen to your Windows PC, Mac, or Linux system—and control it with your mouse and keyboard.

The Options: scrcpy, AirMirror, and Vysor

We recommend scrcpy for this. It’s a free, open-source solution for mirroring and controlling your Android screen on your desktop. There’s just one catch compared to the Windows feature: You have to connect your phone to your PC with a USB cable to mirror it. It’s created by the developers behind Genymotion, an Android emulator.

If you’re all about a wireless connection, we recommend AirDroid’s AirMirror instead. There’s a catch here too, though: If your phone isn’t rooted, you’ll have to jump through some hoops with a USB cable. You’ll need to repeat this process every time you reboot your phone, too.

There’s also Vysor, which is a bit more user-friendly—but wireless access and high-quality mirroring will require payment.

We’ve also highlighted using Miracast to wirelessly stream an Android device’s display to a Windows PC in the past. However, Miracast support is no longer widespread on new Android devices, and Miracast only allows viewing—not remotely controlling.

How to Mirror Your Screen With Phone’s Screen scrcpy

You can download scrcpy from GitHub. For Windows PCs, scroll down to the Windows download link and download either the scrcpy-win64 link for 64-bit versions of Windows or the scrcpy-win32 app for 32-bit versions of Windows.

Extract the contents of the archive to a folder on your computer. To run scrcpy, you’ll just need to double-click the scrcpy.exe file. But, if you run it without an Android phone connected to your PC, you’ll just get an error message. (This file will appear as “scrcpy” if you have file extensions hidden.)

Launching scrcpy from its folder

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How To Enable Dark Mode in Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:23:10 +0000 Rob Woodgate

outlook logo

Here at How-To Geek we love dark mode and use it a lot. If you’re an Office user who wants a darker experience, here’s how to turn dark mode on in the Outlook web app.

Dark mode is only available in the new modern Outlook design. If you haven’t opted-in to this yet, it’ll soon be there automatically for you, as Microsoft has announced that it will be moving everyone over to the new experience over the next few months.

To turn dark mode on, click on the Settings cog in the top right, and switch on the Dark Mode option.

The Outlook Settings panel with the "Dark mode" toggle highlighted.

That’s all there is to it. The app instantly turns to dark mode, which is a lot kinder on the eyes after the previous all-white incarnation.

The Outlook web app displaying in dark mode

If you want the reading pane, and just the reading pane, to be white, there is a toggle in the selected email that lets you do this.

The Reading pane with the light/dark toggle highlighted.

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Daily News Roundup: Google Chrome Extensions Tracking Your Browsing History (Again) Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:18:17 +0000 Josh Hendrickson

A security researcher revealed that some Google Chrome extensions, like HoverZoom, collected your browsing history, and in some cases, even embedded URLs. Then the extensions published them for a fee through a company called Nacho Analytics, potentially revealing personal data.

Sam Jadali, a security researcher and founder of Internet hosting service Host Duplex, noticed something surprising. A company called Nacho Analytics had published a series of links that listed one of his client domains. Those URLs let to private forum conversations, and only the senders and recipients should have those links and the necessary credentials to access the discussions.

When he investigated how Nacho Analytics acquired the URL he discovered the culprit was the very extensions users were installing on their browsers. Extensions like HoverZoom, which expands images, requires access to the full webpage you browse to accomplish its function. But buried in its privacy policy is the statement that it can and will collect your browsing data and share it with 3rd parties for advertising purposes. Jadali discovered several other extensions with similar access and privacy policies.

Many (if not most) people don’t read privacy policies at all, so they not be aware of the extent to which a browser extension can track them. While mere browsing history might not seem like a major privacy violation at first blush, some URLs lead to private and personal information without the need to input a password.

When Jadali investigated further, he found Nacho Analytics published links to home and business surveillance videos from Nest and other security camera providers; tax returns and business documents hosted on OneDrive, Intuit, and other online services; Facebook messenger attachments and private Facebook photos; and other private data.

For its part, Nacho Analytics stresses that collecting and publishing this data isn’t illegal, which is true. The company also downplayed the severity of the problem. The CEO of the company, Mike Roberts, told Ars Technica

Those pages are available. It’s just that you didn’t know how to discover them. This is just something that you’re now able to see that you weren’t able to see before. But we’re not creating a loophole. There’s no backdoor or anything. We’re just showing links that you didn’t know about before and maybe weren’t indexed, but they do exist…

Google is investigating and already removed some offending extensions. But this extensive report does illustrate that you should look at extensions closely when installing them. And that includes what data you’re giving access to and what the privacy policies say the extension can do with that data. [Ars Technica]

In Other News:

  • Vienna’s Driverless Bus parked after hitting someone: In Vienna, Austria a self-driving bus trial is on hold after the bus collided with a pedestrian. The bus was traveling 7.5 miles per hour, and just clipped the person, so everyone is okay. But Navya, the startup behind the bus, wants to investigate thoroughly for the safety of everyone. Self-driving is hard. [The Verge]
  • Southwest Airlines gave free Nintendo Switches to passengers: A Nintendo Rep had a surprise for passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight to San Diego. Free Switches (with Maro Maker 2) for everyone. Bonus points if they yelled, “And you get a Switch, and you get a Switch…” [Digital Trends]
  • Plants vs Zombies 3 is in development: Six years after Plants vs. Zombies 2 dropped, a new sequel is in development. Better yet, you can try an early pre-alpha now on Android. But spots are limited so jump in now if you want to play. [Engadget]
  • Google Stadia Controller won’t support Bluetooth headphones to start: Anyone hoping to game quietly on Google’s Stadia service will have to use wired headphones. Director of Andrey Doronichev, Product for Stadia, explained in an AMA that the controller wouldn’t support Bluetooth audio on day one. An update down the road will add the feature. Until then, at least it has a headphone jack. [9to5Google]

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How to Properly Set Up PlayStation VR Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:24:07 +0000 Oliver Haslam
PlayStation VR headset, PlayStation 4 console, and controller sitting on a table.
Iren Key/Shutterstock

The PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset plugs into PS4 and creates a bona fide virtual reality experience. But like all VR headsets, it needs lots of cables. We’ll show you how to plug everything in and set up your room to get the most out of your PSVR.

The PlayStation VR lets gamers take on new challenges in new worlds, but the first challenge is getting the thing set up. It’s more cumbersome than challenging, but don’t worry! We’re here to lend a hand.

First, Some Requirements

PSVR headset.

Sony recommends a play space of 10 ft. x 10 ft. An area of 6 ft. x 6 ft. might suffice, but results aren’t guaranteed. You might be able to trick your PSVR into working in a smaller space by angling the PlayStation Camera slightly downward—more on that later.

While not required for most games, PlayStation Move controllers are highly recommended. They are an additional expense, but one you’re unlikely to regret.

Now, get all of those boxes opened and cables unwrapped. It’s time to get started.

How to Set Up the PSVR

Rear of PSVR Processor Unit.

First, unplug the HDMI cable from the back of the PS4 and connect it to the port labeled “HDMI TV” on the back of the PSVR Processor Unit (the box that came with the PSVR headset). This sends the signal to your TV.

HDMI cable inserted into the HDMI TV port on the Processor Unit.

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How to Monitor the Progress of Linux Commands (With pv and progress) Fri, 19 Jul 2019 13:00:48 +0000 Dave McKay
Linux terminal prompt on a laptop
Fatmawati Achmad Zaenuri/

Instead of flying blind, use the Linux pv and progress commands to track a command’s progress. These utilities will give you progress bars for commands that don’t normally have any. You’ll see an estimated time until completion, too.

If you are on a long haul flight on an aircraft without video screens in the seatbacks, it isn’t easy to know how far through your journey you are. You know when you took off. You know how long the flight is expected to take. But how do you know if you are on track, on time, or way behind schedule? If you don’t want to watch the in-flight movie you can usually switch your video screen to show a map with the position of your aircraft on it. You also get some statistics, such as an expected time of arrival (ETA), which is great.

Starting a command from the terminal window can sometimes feel like a long-haul flight without a video screen. You have nothing to give any indication if all is well or if the process has hung, nor how close to completion it is. A flashing cursor isn’t very informative.

The pv and progress commands give you some statistics and a little visual feedback. You can see how close the process is to complete. That means you get an ETA for your running processes. Compared with staring at a cursor, that wins hands down.

Installing pv

You must install pv.

To install pv on Ubuntu use this command:

sudo apt-get install pv

sudo apt-get install pv in a terminal window

To install pv on Fedora use this command:

sudo dnf install pv

sudo dnf install pv in a terminal window

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How to Make Your TV Display Art (or Family Photos) Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:00:38 +0000 Josh Hendrickson
A TCL TV displaying "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte"
Josh Hendrickson

Samsung’s Frame TV is beautiful and expensive. When it’s not in use, it displays works of art. But if you have smart TV already, you can accomplish something similar with an app or Chromecast. Here’s how.

Of course, your TV will use more power if it’s displaying images instead of powered off. That’s the point of Samsung’s Frame TV, too: Rather than showing an empty black screen or a garish home screen, you can display art or photos instead. Whether it’s a Roku, Chromecast, or Fire TV, you can approximate the Frame TV experience.

Choosing Your Images

An image of the Milky Way, taken by NASA telescopes
This image works well on TVs, thanks to its wide aspect ratio. NASA

Before you continue, think about what you want to show on your TV. Some of the solutions below offer built-in art gallery modes that will automatically provide beautiful art for you, so you won’t have to fuss over images.

If you’re using your own photos, remember that selfies, photos you’ve taken in portrait orientation, and old film shots you digitized with a scanner likely wouldn’t look good blown up to your 40+ inch horizontal TV.

But if you’re confident you have plenty of horizontally orientated images taken at high resolution, you should go through them and choose the best of the bunch. If you’re using a Chromecast, you’ll load your photos to Google Photos. For FireTVs you’ll upload to Amazon Photos. Roku TVs can use either images from your phone or Google Photos. And Apple TVs use iCloud storage for their screensavers.  Regardless of the platform, we recommend creating a dedicated album named “TV slideshow” so you can easily remember and find it.

Just keep in mind any storage limits you may face when loading high-resolution images to Google Photos, iCloud photos, and Amazon Photos. Google Photos offers unlimited storage for photos if you let it reduce the size of the picture. If you want full resolution, you only have 16 GBs for free. Amazon Photos gives Prime subscribers unlimited storage space, and everyone else 5 GB’s of space. iCloud offers five GBs of free space and charges $1 a month for 50 GBs of space.

If you’re looking for inspiration, check out the Art Institution of Chicago, which hosts high-resolution images of famous artwork, or you could use images from NASA. Family photos that fit everyone in the frame will most likely work well too.

How to Display Images with Roku

Roku screensaver settings dialog, with PhotoView selected.

We think Roku is one of your best options for a Smart TV. If you have one, you can easily display Google Photo albums on your TV, and even set up a screensaver effect to start the album slideshow after a period of activity.

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Is a Universal Remote Worth Your Money? Fri, 19 Jul 2019 08:00:33 +0000 Andrew Heinzman
A man controls his entire media center using a single remote. It's a universal remote!

Universal remotes have been around for a while, and they’ve come a long way. They can control your media center, your IR devices, and even your smarthome. But are universal remotes worth your money? If so, which one should you buy?

What Can a Universal Remote Do?

Before deciding whether or not a universal remote is worth your money (and which one you might want to buy), you should know that universal remotes can do more than just control a TV.

We’re going to quickly look at the Logitech Harmony Companion’s features, as it’s arguably the most robust universal remote. Keep in mind that other (cheaper) universal remotes may only carry only one or two of these features, but we’ll get into that later.

Here’s what universal remotes can do for you:

  • Simplify Your Media Center: Universal remotes can imitate the IR blast from any remote control. In other words, you can control multiple devices with one remote.
  • Create TV Routines: A universal remote can also automate your TV processes. If you wanted to turn on your TV and PS4 with the press of one button, for example, a universal remote could do that. You could also flesh out this routine by adding time-saving commands like “switch to HDMI input 2.”
  • Control Your Smarthome: Along with IR controls, some universal remotes can control Wi-Fi enabled smarthome devices. This means that you can control Alexa, Google Assistant, Philips Hue, and other devices through the universal remote control (or companion phone app). These smarthome features can also be used in conjunction with TV routines. You could set your Philips Hue bulbs to dim when you turn on the PlayStation, for example.
  • Make “Dumb” Devices Smart: Some universal remotes can control any device with an IR sensor (cheap lights, portable air conditioners, etc.). In effect, they can technically make your “dumb” devices smart. An electric fireplace that’s set up with a universal remote can be controlled through Alexa or Google Assistant or added to smarthome routines. (This can only be done with smarthome compatible remotes).

Now that you know what universal remotes can do let’s get into it.

Do You Own a Complicated Media Center?

A pretty minimal media center. Maybe this person should skip the universal remote.
Keith Muratori/Shutterstock

If your TV is hooked up to just one video source, then you probably don’t need a universal remote. But if your media center is comprised of a cable box, a few game consoles, a Blu-Ray player, and an old VHS player (for example), then a universal remote is probably worth your cash.

Aside from the ability to turn on different devices with a single remote, some universal remotes, like the Logitech Harmony Companion or the Harmony 665, can build custom routines. You could program your PS4 and TV to turn on with the press of a single button (which can be done without a universal remote on some TVs using HDMI-CEC), for instance. Or, you could expand on the routine by adding commands like “turn to HDMI input 2,” or “set volume to 20.”

Of course, you could keep things simple with a cheap remote, like the GE 33709 or the Philips Universal Remote. These remotes don’t have smarthome features or routines, but they’re capable of controlling up to four devices at a time. That’s still better than fidgeting with a pile of different remotes.

Do You Have a Robust Smarthome?

A man controls a smarthome using his phone. He's got a lot of connected devices, maybe he should get a universal remote.

Even with a tiny media center, a universal remote can still be worth your money. That is, so long as you have (or want) a robust smarthome.

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How to Kick People Off Your Wi-Fi Network Fri, 19 Jul 2019 10:40:12 +0000 Chris Hoffman
Unplugging an Ethernet cable from a Wi-Fi router
Proxima Studio/Shutterstock

Once you’ve given someone your Wi-FI password, they have unlimited access to your Wi-Fi, and they can join your network on all their devices. That’s how it usually works, anyway. Here’s how to boot them off.

Option 1: Change Your Wi-Fi Password

The easiest, most secure method is merely changing your Wi-Fi network’s password on your router. This will forcibly disconnect all devices from your Wi-Fi network—even your own. You’ll have to reconnect to the Wi-Fi network by entering the new password on all your devices. Anyone who doesn’t have your new password won’t be able to connect.

Let’s be honest: If you have a lot of devices, reconnecting them all will be a pain. But it’s also the only real, foolproof method. Even if you’re capable of blacklisting a device on your router so it can’t reconnect, someone with your Wi-Fi password could connect on a new device. (And, even if they don’t remember the password, there are ways to recover saved Wi-Fi passwords on Windows PCs and other devices.)

To do this, you’ll need to access your router’s configuration settings—usually in a web interface—sign in, and change the Wi-Fi password. You can change the Wi-Fi network’s name while you’re at it, too. We’ve got a guide to accessing your router’s web interface, and you can also perform a web search for your router’s name and model number to find the manufacturer’s manual and official instructions. Look for a “Wireless” or “Wi-Fi” section in your router’s options.

This all assumes you’ve set a password on your router! Ensure you enable secure encryption (WPA2) and set a strong passphrase. If you’re hosting an open Wi-Fi network, anyone will be able to connect.

RELATED: How to Change Your Wi-Fi Network’s Name and Password

Changing the Wi-Fi password on an Asus router

Option 2: Use MAC Address Filtering on Your Router

Some routers have access control features that can manage which devices are allowed to connect. Each wireless device has a unique MAC address. Some routers let you blacklist (ban) devices with a certain MAC address from connecting. Some routers let you set a whitelist of only approved devices and prevent other devices from connecting in the future.

Not all routers even have this option. Even if you can use it, it’s not entirely secure. Someone with your Wi-Fi passphrase could change their device’s MAC address to match an approved one and take its place on your Wi-Fi network. Even if no one does, you’ll have to manually enter MAC addresses when connecting new devices or an attacker will just be able to connect at any time—it doesn’t seem ideal.

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How Should Your Resume Explain Unemployment Gaps? Fri, 19 Jul 2019 06:40:11 +0000 Elyse Hauser
woman working on her laptop, searching for a job

While the actual unemployment rate is notoriously hard to pin down, one thing’s for sure: many people will go through a period of unemployment at some point in their lives. And those gaps don’t just make it hard to pay bills in the meantime—they can also make it harder to get a new job.

The dreaded “employment gap” on your resume can be a red flag to potential employers who wonder what you were up to during that time. But it doesn’t have to be a red flag. If you know the right approach, you can use your resume to explain your experience—even the gaps—in a way that shows you’re the ideal candidate for the job.

How can you use your resume to explain unemployed periods? Here’s how to spin it to get the job you want.

Fill Your Gaps Wisely

If you find yourself unemployed, now or in the future, this is a great time to fill that gap with a productive experience that you can put on your resume.

There are lots of ways to advance your career or skills without actually having a job. Take this time to volunteer in your industry, or sign up for a free online course to grow your skillset. Now, you’ll have relevant experience that you can add to your resume for the period when you were unemployed.

If you can, add the date of this non-work experience when you list it on your resume (such as giving the date of completion for your online course). That way, you can signal to potential employers that even when you weren’t officially working, you were still working on your career.

Loosen up Your Dates

If you already have past employment gaps that you didn’t fill with other valuable experience, you can still make them less prominent on your resume. Consider listing your dates in a way that’s a little more flexible. Instead of listing the month and year that you started and ended each job, just list the year. That way, even if you were unemployed for several months within a year, it won’t be glaringly obvious.

Switch Your Format

RELATED: How to Write Your First Resume

If you have a chronological resume format, your employment dates (and any gaps in them) are front and center. Changing to a functional or hybrid resume pushes that information further down the page, or gets rid of it altogether.

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Geek Trivia: It Wasn’t Until The 1840s You Could Buy Which Of These Foods In Solid Form? Fri, 19 Jul 2019 06:02:43 +0000 Jason Fitzpatrick

It Wasn’t Until The 1840s You Could Buy Which Of These Foods In Solid Form?

  1. Licorice
  2. Honey
  3. Chocolate
  4. Granola

Think you know the answer?

Daily News Roundup: Slack Will Reset Some User Passwords Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:24:12 +0000 Josh Hendrickson

Slack is resetting some user passwords after it became apparent hackers stole them in a previous breach. The hackers compromised Slack’s systems in 2015, copied encrypted passwords, and installed code to record plaintext passwords as users entered them.

In 2015, Slack discovered that hackers had compromised its systems. The hackers managed to make their way into Slack’s infrastructure and breach a database that stored usernames and passwords.

Thankfully, Slack properly hashed the passwords, which means they are encrypted and far less useful. Unfortunately, the hackers also installed code that would record plaintext passwords as users typed them in. When Slack discovered the problem, it tightened its security, removed the bad code, and reset passwords for anyone it thought had been affected by the breach.

Recently, someone contacted Slack through its bug bounty program with a list of compromised username and password combinations. The list was accurate, and when Slack investigated, it realized these passwords were in use during the 2015 breach. While the company thought it had discovered all compromised passwords at the time and reset them, that wasn’t the case.

Now, as a precaution, Slack is resetting all user passwords created at or before the 2015 breach. Slack says the reset affects about 1% of users and will contact them directly with instructions for the reset.

If Slack does contact you, you should also change your login details everywhere else if you reuse your passwords. If you do reuse passwords, you should stop. Breaches are now a common occurrence, and the safest thing to do is use a unique randomly generated password for every site. We recommend using a password manager for that purpose. [TechCrunch]

RELATED: Why You Should Use a Password Manager, and How to Get Started

In Other News:

  • Firefox will alert users of breached passwords: Speaking of breached passwords, Firefox wants to make you aware of when your passwords are compromised. If you save your passwords to the browser they will be checked against Have I Been Pwned. If Firefox finds any matches, it will notify you. [TechRadar]
  • A vulnerability in Bluetooth could reveal your location: Your Bluetooth devices are supposed to make secure connections, so only you have access to them. Unfortunately, the way many Bluetooth devices generate random connection information doesn’t prevent bad actors from tracking devices. Someone could place a series of beacons in a location, like in a mall, and track your movements. Android isn’t affected, but iOS and Windows is, and Fitbit is the easiest of all to follow. [Engadget]
  • Google removed apps designed for stalking from the Play Store: Google removed seven apps from the Play Store for violating its policies on commercial spyware. The apps touted that once installed; they could track location, record contacts, call logs, and the context of text messages (including encrypted services like WhatsApp) of a spouse, employee, or children. The apps came with instructions to install on a victim’s phone, then obfuscate the app so the phone’s owner wouldn’t know. Good riddance. [Gizmodo]
  • Microsoft showed off holographic language translation: In a novel HoloLens demonstration, Microsoft showed off a digital translator at the Microsoft Inspire partner conference. The hologram looked remarkably like the presenter and spoke with similar mannerisms as well. But it spoke in Japanese, whereas the presented spoke in English. Microsoft says live translation will be possible with this hologram, although the demo was a staged script. Pretty neat stuff. [The Verge]
  • Google starting to warn about apps not meant for children: Google previously told developers they would have to specify an intended age range for their apps. Now the company is starting to roll out “not designed for children” warning on apps that report an age range above children. Developers can even choose to apply the label proactively. Good stuff. [9to5Google]

The zombifying ant fungus is even more horrible than we already thought.

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