handy hints

Megabyte presents a collection of handy hints for an easier & more effective computer life.

#1 – Bookmark this page. There’s sure to be something on here that you’ll want to refer to in future.

#2 – Chrome users (everybody, yeah?) – You know how you can’t pause/resume or stop/resume downloads in Chrome? Dumb-ass oversight you reckon? Well, truth be known, you can resume downloads, the feature has always been there. It’s just turned off by default.
Why? I don’t know why, at the moment I’m leaning towards a dumb-ass oversight by not-the-smartest-programmer @ Goggle.
To fix: in the address bar, type Chrome://flags, press Enter. Now scroll down to the “Enable Download Resumption” option & click the Enable link directly below. Now look to the bottom left corner, hit the Relaunch button & ka-ching, your downloads are now resumable. Like that.

#3 – Traditional software installations often display kinda out of focus on Windows 10, not totally fuzzy but certainly not sharp anyway.
Fuzzy1At first, I thought it was my eyes. But no, Microsoft has some bullshit waffle reason for this occurrence – and they blame it on the developers. Funny how the same softs worked fine on Windows 7 & the only thing that’s changed is the Windows version but it’s the developers fault? Yeah right.
Anyway, to fix this annoying little PIA – go to the program icon, right click. Properties/Compatibility – as you see below – then select Disable Display Scaling. Click Apply, OK, now re-start the program.
Fuzzy2Ka-ching! Nice sharp graphics again. Fuck you MS.
Fuzzy3

#4 – Lots of people swap between iPhone & Android devices, me included. There’s also a core of peeps for whom the data storage functions of smartphones is vital, because they have all their contacts particularly stored with Apple/Google, they find themselves trapped within that mobile OS. The good news is, it’s easy to sync your data between the two. Lets go from ‘Droid to iOS first, this is real quick & easy

‘Droid to iOS – Settings / Mail, Contacts, Calendars / Add Account / Other / Add CardDAV Account. For Server, use Google.com, then enter your username & password. Under Advanced Settings, select Use SSL, Port 443. Done.

iOS to ‘Droid – Apple keep changing their access protocol, so where it used to be as simple as the method above, now we need a small, free app. Search the Google Play Store, select Sync For iCloud by Arpanet. Sync functionality includes contacts, calendar & mail. The app also has a built-in browser which displays iCloud.com – usually mobile browsers are redirected away.

That’s some pretty cool stuff for a free app. Free mobile apps, of course, are very rarely completely & utterly free. They generate ads to create a micro revenue stream which builds into a river once a good app proves itself & gets installed on maybe 10,000,000 devices. Personally, I wouldn’t know how many ads Sync For iCloud generates cos I use an edited Hosts file which blocks advertisers from my device. Heh. So…

#5 – Remove ads from your Android (requires root access) If you have root access enabled on your ‘Droid, you should download the zip containing my anti-ad hosts file, extract the file simply called hosts from it & drop it into system/etc/ – write over your existing hosts file. Ka-ching! (To view that far into your system, I use Total Commander, free from Playstore.

#6 – Windows 8.1 came pre-installed on your new PC or laptop, but you’d prefer the Windows 7 style desktop interface, huh? Join the club. You and the rest of the wwworld. The fix is simple, it’s Classic Shell, read about it here, download it from here. Classic Shell provides massive configure-ability yet weighs only 6.5MB & consumes barely 1MB of RAM whilst running. Replacing your Start Button, Classic Shell delivers Start Menu styling choices, Windows Explorer options, does something to Internet Explorer (I don’t know what though because I will not touch that POS browser, it is the cause of nearly all viruses you’ve ever had) and runs the Metro interface out of town. So all in all, this is a pretty handy piece of software. & the price? $0. Yup, no need for clever hackery to circumvent licensing fees – there are no fees, it’s free.

#7 – Photoshop Users – we lost a bunch of our favourite plug-ins & filters (DCE Tools, for example) when the world’s dominant image editor went 64-bit, as 32-bit plugs no longer work with Photoshop. There’s a clue in that last sentence however, because PS isn’t the only editor that is compatible with PS plug-ins and filters. Got an essential tool that frustratingly wont operate any more? Solution: install the lightweight (<15MB) & free but massively capable XnView Extended, which happily plays with all your deprecated but still useful 32-bit filters & plug-ins.

Now, install your 32-bit add-ons to the correct XnView folder – C:\Program Files (x86)\XnView\8bf\ in the case of filters – and access then through the XnView Filters tab. OK, this method involves opening two programs, XnView and Photoshop, but XnView opens instantly and really, that’s a minor drama to go through in order to have your favourite filters return to life. In fact if all you need to do is process with the 32-bit filters, XnView will do it quicker than Photoshop will! See, I told you there would be some gold on this page.

#8 – The smartphone app income model has quickly evolved from the Program A Lite (no features, demo only) for free, Premium version (fully functional) $X model to a system where the basic app is still free but you can gradually increase the functionality via In-App Purchases, low value spends that entice you to spend & spend again, teensy amounts that you’ll never notice. Eerr, yes you will. Maybe not each individual IAP but overall they’ll add up alright. And if somebody else (read “your little brat”) has your device in hand, look out, just look out for the substantial bill that will be heading your way.

But, you see, since the phone does not actually take cash (unlike pokie machines, there is no slot), when you make a purchase with Apple or Google, what happens is that your phone is told by Apple/Google/Whoever that you’ve paid. Because your phone trusts that information, the payment advice is passed through to the app which unlocks the previously crippled feature. So your phone thinks that a trusted authority has been paid and given approval for the action to happen.

Now, what if, just what if, the approval came from the trusted authority without payment proceeding? If the payment process didn’t go to plan is what I’m saying. Since the financial transaction isn’t fundamental to the feature unlock, it’s just used as a gateway to the process, the action would still proceed. So long as either: Google/Apple thought they’d been paid OR your phone thought Google/Apple had confirmed payment. See where I’m going with this? It’s not a locked-down certainty that you are required to spend money to obtain fully-featured apps, not at all.

But Megabyte, what can we do? Well, on your Android, Freedom and Lucky Patcher are my best friends when it comes to solving the In-App payment requirement. With iOS, again, a combination of two apps. I recommend & use Local IAP Store and IAPCrazy to provide the means to fool the apps & OS most of the time.

Where do we, the general populace get those utilities? And how do they work? Either of two ways – the same way I did, through investigation, exploration and experimentation (it’s a long learning path without a pot of gold at the end), or you can access the 1024kb services, spend a little to save a lot. Your phone will be rid of ads, your apps will have endless free credits (works on most, but not all apps), and lots more besides. And it’ll all be done same day, which is a lot (like really, a lot) quicker than the self-discovery method.

#9 – Test your password’s strength against a brute-force attack in the box below. Provided by the very sensibly-named howsecureismypassword.net, the length & complexity of your current password is tested against a simulated attack by just 1 average desktop PC.

The returned timeframe is a very optimistic result, you are far more likely to encounter the combined power of thousands of PC’s (Cloud computing makes this kind of processing power an easily rentable commodity) which will annihilate the estimated time given.
How did you do? Embarrassed? Concerned? Scared? Don’t be. It’s easy to sort password security – read up on it here.

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