How To Rip YouTube Videos Using VLC Player

If you want to rip a YouTube video to your computer, you have lots of online options. Too many in fact to know which ones are better and more trustworthy than the others.

We have previously shown you a few sites which help you download videos and playlists, but that involves using other peoples servers, checking the page source, hunting for obscure download links, and dealing with endless NSFW pop-ups on other peoples domains. 

Why bother with all that when you can quickly and effortlessly rip a YouTube video using a software app most people already have installed on their computer? I refer of course to VLC Player.

This example has been done on a MacOS laptop but the Windows method is very similar.

How To Rip a YouTube Video Using VLC Player

  • Go to the YouTube page of the video you want to rip and copy the URL of the video.
  • If you haven’t already installed VLC Player, grab it from the website and install it. It’s free. 
  • When it’s installed, open it up and choose File – Open Network. On Windows, it’s Media – Open Network Stream.
  • In the box that pops up, paste the YouTube URL of the video you want to rip.
  • The YouTube video will now proceed to stream inside VLC.
  • If you are on a Mac, now click Window – Media Information. If on Windows, go to Tools – Codec Information.
  • At the very bottom of the screen is a very long link in the Location field. Highlight the entire link, right-click and select Copy.
  • Go to a browser and in the URL address bar, paste that long link from the Location field in VLC. The YouTube video should now start playing automatically in the browser. Right-click on the video and choose Save Video As.
  • By default, the video will be saved as videoplayback (without a format). So give your file a name and try first with an mp4 format. If that doesn’t work, then try avi.
  • Your file will now be downloaded to your computer in the quality that the original uploader provided it in. So picture and audio quality will vary.

Given how easy ripping a YouTube video was, who needs online converters and hunting through website page sources? I sure don’t.

YouTube Music Review – A Nice Streamlined Way To Listen To Music Videos

When you think of streaming music, you are spoilt for choice. The market leader is arguably Spotify, with Apple Music coming in a close second. Then it’s platforms like Pandora taking up the slack. But what about YouTube?

Illegal music uploads to YouTube are nothing new. But these days, all major artists and business-savvy bands are making their own official YouTube channels with their music free for anyone to hear. Not only does it help them find new fans, but they can monetize their videos with YouTube ads, helping them to bring in some extra revenue.

YouTube has latched onto this and now has a dedicated YouTube music video site and mobile app with both free and paid options (the paid option for $12.99 a month removes all YouTube video ads, but $12.99 to skip ads after 5 seconds is outrageous). You can get YouTube Music here and on iOS & Android.

YouTube Music Videos Pull In All The Music You’ve Already Listened To

If you’re like me, you’ll have listened to music on YouTube quite a lot. Therefore you may have your own specially curated music playlists, as well as music in your ‘liked’ lists.

So YouTube likely already has a good idea of what you like to listen to by studying your track record. When you start YouTube Music for the first time, all of that music history is pulled into the app.

You can further refine your music choices by specifying what artists you like. You can come back to this screen at any time via the link in the settings.

Once you go back to the main Music screen, it will begin to self-populate with your liked music, liked artists and what YouTube Music deems to be ‘similar’ to your likes.

You can listen to automatically generated playlists based on an artist you liked or a genre that you tend to listen to. A lot of my music likes on YouTube are from the 1980’s, so that is partly what I found when I studied YouTube’s playlists.

You also get a mixtape of “endless personalized music” which you’ve either liked in the past or similar ones which YouTube is convinced you will enjoy.

Playlists like this are ideal for when you’re working or travelling, and you want to have some background music. Just click play and it will jump from one song to another without any input from you (except for when you need to skip an ad).

Listening To a Song On YouTube Music

If you tap a playlist or artist, the screen will change to the playlist on the right, and the YouTube music video of the song currently being played on the left.

Here are the features to look out for :

  1. The two horizontal lines to the right of each song title will let you drag songs into a different order in the playlist.
  2. Giving a song the thumbs-up will tell YouTube to give you more songs like that.
  3. Giving a song the thumbs-down will tell YouTube to avoid further music like that, and it will also immediately bounce you to the next song in the playlist. Like Spotify and Apple Music, YouTube’s algorithms only know what you like if you teach it.
  4. Clicking the three vertical dots underneath the video opens up even more options. Bear in mind though that any changes you make with these options will be immediately reflected on your regular YouTube account.

Is It a Spotify Killer?

In a word, no.

As much as YouTube would like to think they are just as good as Spotify or Apple Music, they are just not there yet. Videos depend on the person who uploaded them and that person can easily delete the video. Videos can also be very low quality or even mislabelled as something else. Which is why $12.99 a month for no ads is a bit of a cheek.

But if you use it as a free user and don’t mind skipping the ads, it is a nice way to listen to music on YouTube. The endless playlists are a nice touch if you have your curated music on YouTube like I do.

How to Protect Yourself from Hackers Online

The Internet can be a scary place these days. Although it can often be used for good, such as providing people with remote jobs and lifelines to disabled people stranded at home, it can also bring out the worst of society, determined to exploit people’s good natures.

Whether it is someone trying to hack into your online accounts, sending you an email with a phishing link to get hold of your credit card details, or having your computer disabled by ransomware, there are risks involved in going online. 

But as with staying safe offline, you can also protect yourself from hackers online by following sensible precautions. These are obviously no guarantee that nothing will happen, but it will make it much more difficult for the opportunistic “drive-by” hacker.

Strengthen Your Passwords & Use a Password Manager

The first lesson of computer security is ALWAYS good passwords. Unfortunately, many people hear this but then switch off and go back to binge-watching Netflix. The internet users whose password is 12345 or password.

You must have a password :

  • Which is not connected to you in any way. This means not using your birthday, the name of your spouse, pet, parents, siblings, and so on.
  • Which is a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters (exclamation point, underscore, brackets, etc). 12345 is obviously terrible, but @X@3SqlH#<AYd+53mvJmM is perfect. The password should ideally be changed every 30-45 days. Add it to your calendar schedule.
  • Make sure the account will notify you by email or SMS if the password is changed. Look in the account’s settings. If the password is changed without your knowledge or consent, deal with it immediately. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it later.
  • Do not use the same password for all online accounts. Also try and open several disposable email accounts and not use the same email for all accounts. The key is to keep accounts separate from one another in case of a mass data breach.
  • In the password recovery options, add fake answers to the recovery questions. So when it asks where you were born, say “in a hospital”. If it asks for your first address, say “a nice big house”. Just remember the fake replies so you can access the account later if need be.
  • The main piece of advice is to use a password manager. Our recommendation is KeePass but here are some other solid password manager recommendations.

Use An 2-Factor Authenticator App, Not SMS Codes

As well as a secure password, you also need to enable 2-Factor Authentication (if the website in question supports it – more are getting on board all the time). 

I wouldn’t recommend the SMS message option as your default option though. Simply because some hackers are able to spoof your mobile phone number and intercept the SMS message. You can mitigate the risk to a certain degree by not publicising your mobile number online.

I recently wrote about how to set up Google Authenticator, and a while ago, I also discussed YubiKey, another 2FA method. So I would just refer you to those articles.

Use a Virtual Private Network & Force-Encrypt All URLs

Try not to use public wifi networks, unless it is absolutely essential. They are very insecure and you can easily have your account login details snatched by someone with a network sniffing tool. But if you absolutely must jump onto the Starbucks wifi, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the risk.

  • Use a cross-browser extension, developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called HTTPS Everywhere. As the name implies, it forces all sites you visit to go to the encrypted HTTPS version. This makes it impossible for a network sniffer like Wireshark to view the login details you enter into a site.
  • The second thing to do is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This hides your IP address and reroutes all your web traffic through the servers of the VPN company, making it look as if you are in another country.

    We recently profiled ones you should seriously consider, as well as the best ones for Mac and iOS. Whatever you do, don’t use a free service.

Set Up a Firewall, Virus Checker, & Malware Checker

Firewalls can be rather difficult to set up as all incoming and outgoing web traffic is stopped, and you have to make “rules” for each one. But in the long run, it is well worth it. 

MacOS users have a firewall automatically installed on their system (go to Settings–>Security & Privacy–>Firewall to switch it on). Windows users also have the built-in Windows firewall. There are also various third-party options, each with varying degrees of reputation.

Scan your computer constantly with a virus/malware checker and always make sure you have downloaded the latest updates. Here are some virus & malware scanners for Windows, and Mac users can take a look at this list.

Check URL’s & Files Before Clicking On Them

How many emails do you get every day claiming to be from your bank, Paypal, or Amazon? They will all attempt to look like real emails from these places (despite the typos), and they will ALL tell you that your details have been compromised, and since they are such nice helpful people, here’s a password reset link for you to click on.

But obviously the password reset link leads to a fake site and once you enter the old password, they’ve got you. So…

  • Do not, under any circumstances, click links inside emails. Instead, open your browser, go directly to the website by typing the website URL, and log in the normal way. Do not assume that the email is safe, even if it comes from a friend. Their email address could have been spoofed by someone else.
  • Do not click on short URLs (such as TinyURL), as you have no idea where these links lead. If you have to click on one of these links, run it through a URL expander first. It will tell you the real destination of the link.
  • Before clicking on a link, mouse over it, then look in the bottom left corner of the browser where the link is displayed. Do both URLs match up? I’m betting they won’t.
  • Be extremely careful with files with the format exe, zip, rar, iso, or anything which is an operating system script. But other formats are not immune. Run all files and download links through VirusTotal first.
  • Make sure “autorun” and “autoplay” are disabled in Windows to stop USB stick viruses from auto-starting.

Shut Down All Inactive & Unneeded Online Accounts

When a hacker has your login details for one site, they will start to see what other sites you are on to see if the same login details work there too. So, as well as not reusing passwords, you should also shut down all online accounts you no longer need.

A lot of places make it extremely hard to shut down an account, some even impossible. But you can get direct links to account closure options by searching on Account Killer.

Use Disposable Credit Cards & Gift Cards

One of the commonest ways that people get stung by a hacker is by having their credit card details stolen in a data breach. New e-commerce stores are springing up all the time and so the more you use your credit card for an online purchase, the higher the chance that eventually that credit card number is going to become compromised.

As well as making sure that the website you’re buying from has an HTTPS link, you should also consider using one-time disposable credit cards and gift cards. Gift cards can be found in local stores and can be for something like topping up your iTunes balance or paying your Netflix bill.

Saphia recently profiled 5 reputable disposable credit card services, with Revolut being one of the best.

Conclusion

The above list is not an exhaustive one but if you are just starting out on your quest to make your online presence more secure and protect yourself from hackers online, these suggestions are the best place to start.

Google Authenticator: What It Is and How to Set It Up

Back in the early days of the internet, when things were more easy-going, a password was all you really needed to secure your account. But these days, as technology has advanced at a rapid clip, a password is no longer enough. This is why everyone must set up and use two-factor authentication as an additional layer of security. Google Authenticator can help with that.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) also goes by Two-Step Authentication and Multi-Factor Authentication. But no matter what name you use, it all works the same way, and you would be silly not to use it if a website supports it.

It would mean the difference between being hacked and not being hacked. All of the major websites, such as Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and Dropbox have 2FA for their users.

What Is Two-Factor Authentication & How Does It Work?

2FA is a second layer of security for your online accounts (your regular password being the first layer). It is a code which must be entered into the website in question – after your password – to prove you are the rightful owner of the account.

There are three methods of obtaining a 2FA code – using an authenticator app like Google Authenticator, getting text messages on your mobile phone (which is ill-advised due to SIM card cloning) and a YubiKey. The securest method is an authentication app, so today we will show you how to set up and use Google Authenticator, a popular and easy-to-use app for 2FA.

What Is Google Authenticator?

An authenticator app is a smartphone app, which automatically generates new 2FA codes for each of your configured accounts every 30 seconds. You must enter the correct number shown on the authenticator screen into your website login box, before the code expires and a new code is generated in its place. 

If you get the code wrong, say three times in a row, you will be locked out for a certain period of time.

The first thing to do is to download and install the Google Authenticator app for your smartphone. It is available for free for both Android and iOS. Ignore the bad reviews. Some people complain about how “basic” it is compared to a rival app, but sometimes basic is the best. You don’t need to overcomplicate things.

How Secure Is Two-Factor Authentication?

If you don’t use 2FA, a potential hacker would just need your password and then they would be into your account. Considering all the things people keep in their email these days (credit card details just being the start of it), it would be a disaster if a hacker got in.

But if you used 2FA? Well then that changes everything. In order to get the 2FA codes, the hacker would need to be in physical possession of your smartphone and know the PIN to your phone. They would then need to have Google Authenticator open at the right time to get the right code before it expired in thirty seconds.

Granted, having to enter the code might be seen by some to be a bit of a pain in the ass but taking an extra ten seconds to enter a second code is infinitely more preferable to being hacked and having your private data stolen.

Getting Started With Google Authenticator

We’re now going to show you how to set up your first 2FA-configured account. Many sites offer 2FA – just look in the Security section of the site in question. Or check this site which maintains a list of who offers it and who doesn’t.

For our example, we are going to show you how to secure a Gmail account with Google Authenticator. The benefit of using it with Google is that 2FA will protect your entire Google account, across all Google-owned services such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar, YouTube, and many more. So it’s a good place to start.

Setting Up Google Authenticator On Google

  • Go to your Google Account settings page and sign in. 
  • On the page that follows, click on Security in the left-hand sidebar.
  • Scroll down to Signing into Google and on the right, you’ll see an option for 2-Step Verification. Click on that now.
  • On the next screen, log in again and then click the blue Get Started at the bottom. 
  • On the next screen, you will be asked to choose an identity verification method when setting up 2FA. Their clear preference seems to be a “Google prompt” sent to the Gmail app on your phone or tablet. If you don’t have the Gmail app installed, or you would prefer not to use it, you can instead opt for a phone call, SMS message, or use your security key. This requires giving Google your mobile phone number.
  • Once you have responded to the Google prompt and entered the verification code, you will be asked whether or not you want to turn on two-factor authentication. Click the blue TURN ON button and it will start up.

If you now scroll down the page, you will see two sections – Backup codes and Authenticator app. These are the next two sections to set up.

  • Click on Backup codes and a small box will open with ten codes. Obviously I am blurring part of my codes so you can’t see them and use them! Download the list and keep it in a very safe place. If you lose your phone, these backup codes are your only way into your account.
  • Now go to the Authenticator app section. First, you will be asked what type of phone you have.
  • You’ll be asked to sign in again. Once you’ve done so, a QR code will appear at the top of the screen.
  • Now open the Authenticator app on your phone and at the top, you will see a plus icon at the top right. Tap on that.
  • At the bottom of the Authenticator screen, you will see two options – Scan barcode and Manual entry. Choose Scan barcode.
  • Point your phone screen at the QR code and it will immediately buzz. A 2FA number will now appear on your Authenticator screen.
  • You need to enter this number into the Authenticator section of your Google account. Once you’ve done so, 2FA is set up. From now on, everytime you log into your Google account, you will be prompted for a 2FA code, but you can whitelist “trusted devices” such as your private home computer.

As you can see, two-factor authentication is not rocket science, especially with the Google Authenticator app. It just requires a bit of poking around in the settings, and a bit of setup with your phone.

Set Up Custom Reddit Alerts With “Notifier For Reddit”

Everyone knows Google Alerts where you can be alerted by email and/or RSS feed if a certain search query turns up anything new. It is used by a huge number of people and is easily one of Google’s most-used tools.

But did you know that someone has now started an equivalent service for Reddit?

To be clear, “Notifier for Reddit” is not officially endorsed by Reddit as far as we can see. Nor is it part of the company’s product offerings. It is instead a tool made by a private individual who uses Reddit’s API to monitor the site and provide email-based custom Reddit alerts for people monitoring a certain word or phrase. 

But if the service takes off, we can seriously see Reddit buying it. It’s really good.

Why Should You Create Custom Reddit Alerts?

Reddit bills itself as “the front page of the Internet” and this is not hyperbole by any means. Reddit is huge, which is probably the understatement of the century. Made up of thousands of “subreddits” on every conceivable subject, you can find pretty much any subject you are looking for on there.

As well as consumers praising companies and their products, they can quite easily turn and complain about those companies and products too. Same goes for websites like this one. What are people saying on Reddit about us? Do they like our work? Or have we enraged someone by saying Windows is better than a Mac?

While we can obviously manually search Reddit at any time, such a process can be laborious and time-consuming. “Notifier for Reddit” on the other hand is your constant sentinel, standing guard and ready to alert you the moment your keywords are uttered on Reddit. 

The Pricing Plans

Before we go into the inner workings of “Notifier for Reddit”, it’s worth comparing the pricing plans, as there are obviously differences between them.

There is a free tier and two paid tiers. As you can see, the free tier is heavily restricted to just one search term (called a “searcher”). Your results are also delivered to you as “low priority”, meaning you won’t get real-time results. The free tier is more or less a “try it out and see what you think of the service” tier.

The paid plans removes all of these restrictions, and the only difference between the two plans are the number of “searchers” you can have running at the one time. For the $2.99 plan, you can have 3 and for the $10 plan, you can have 25.

$10 may seem like a lot of money for a service like this, but if you are a high revenue company that relies heavily on your reputation, $10 is nothing. But saying that, such a company may want more than 25 search terms running.

We were given access to the $10 tier to try out the service and this is what we found.

How It Works

Once you have made an account, signed in, and chosen your plan, it’s time to set up your first searcher – which is essentially a custom Reddit alert.

“Searchers” gives you a list of all currently running search terms and their status. “Add Searcher” is where you can add a new one. So click on that now.

These are the options you are presented with.

The “Search String” is your keyword or keyphrase. It’s virtually the same as how you would search on Google, as the following on NFR shows :

Bear in mind though that the more common the phrase, the more flooded you are going to get with notifications. To see this for myself, I listed “dogs” as a search string and suddenly my Gmail inbox got flooded with emails.

So the lesson here is to make the search term as specific as possible, to avoid too many false positives and/or so much stuff that you are literally drowning.

Anyway, back to setting up the search query. You can choose from the following :

  • Posts, comments, or both.
  • Whether the search query is case-sensitive or not. In other words, if you type the search query with an upper-case first letter, it will only look for results with an upper-case first letter.
  • The length of the notification interval. Whether you should be notified instantly or daily in a digest email. If you are on the free plan though, it won’t be “instant” as you will be in the low priority queue.
  • Include/Exclude Subreddits. This is where you can say if you want to focus on particular subreddits or exclude particular subreddits. This helps to make the results more targeted so you get the results you actually want.

Then click “add” and the NTR bot will go off and do its thing. 

As soon as it finds results which match your search terms, you’ll get an email.

Custom Reddit alert services like this are a huge time-saver for those who use and rely on social media heavily. Keeping real-time track of updates on these platforms is just impossible, given the amount of new information flowing through them on a daily and hourly basis.

Notifier for Reddit helps people to keep on top of what is being said about them and their interests on the front page of the Internet.