How to compress images with Google Squoosh

Image compression is a tricky thing. When you compress an image, you want the quality to remain more or less the same but the size to be reduced. In most cases, an image is compressed to save space however a reduced size almost always means a reduction in quality. There are loads of different services and apps that you can use to compress images and Google has one in the mix too. It’s called Squoosh and it’s fairly good.

Compress images with Squoosh

Squoosh works in your browser and can also run offline. The app is an experimental one and it supports OptiPNG, MozJPEG, WebP, Browser PNG, Browser JPEG, and Browser WebP. You can use it in any modern web browser.

Visit Squoosh and add the image you want to compress. Once you add the image, you have to select which format it is you want to convert it to after compression.

You should know that both JPEG and WebP are lossy formats. Each format has its own compression settings that you can customize.

When you add an image, the app displays it across two panes. The left pane shows you the original image, and the right one shows you the image after the compression has been applied. You can click and drag the image to view other parts of it, post compression. To select the compression format, open the menu at the bottom left and under the Compress section open the dropdown. In addition to converting and compressing an image, you can also resize it and reduce its color palette. Reducing the color palette will obviously result in a less sharp image.

The control box at the bottom left will show you how much the file size has been reduced. To download the compressed image, click the download button at the bottom of the control box on the right.

With the brief tests we did, the compression isn’t bad at all. In fact, there was no noticeable drop in quality for the photos that we tested with. It is possible that for images that feature more drastic changes in lighting e.g., a photo of a sunset against a city skyline, there will be more dark areas after compression. For indoor photos, the results were fairly good.

Compression is always going to result in loss of quality however, developers have been striving to limit how much quality is lost when an image is compressed and compared to a few years ago, there’s been reasonable progress.

Read How to compress images with Google Squoosh by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to fix Steam too many login failures from your network error

Steam is a gaming platform and you might think that security doesn’t matter much on it. After all, what’s someone going to steal? Your in-game achievements? If you buy games on Steam, and everyone does, your billing information not to mention your phone number are two things potential hackers might be interested in. That’s why, if you have one too many failed long in attempts, Steam locks you out. You see the error message “There have been too many login failures from your network in a short time period. Please wait and try again later”.

The problem with this error message is that it doesn’t define how long the ‘short time period’ ought to be. Here’s how you can fix the Steam too many login failures from your network error.

Wait 30 minutes

The ‘short time period’ is 30 minutes long. If you have that time, wait it out and then log in to Steam. The error will disappear though you might still be prompted to enter a CAPTCHA code.

Different Network

The main problem, other than that you forgot your password and made one too many attempts to guess it, is that the attempts all came from one network. Steam is now suspicious of that network and has placed a soft ban on you from using it to sign in. The quick solution is to use a different network to sign in.

Now, no one has a second internet connection available on hand in case Steam places a soft ban on their network so you have two alternatives; a mobile hotpot, or a VPN.

Mobile Hotspot

Everyone has a phone and most, if not all, modern Android phones and all iPhones allow you to create a hotspot. You can connect your PC or laptop to your phone’s hotspot and login to Steam. Use Steam with the hotspot for thirty minutes after which you can switch back to your main connection. This will consume your mobile data so think carefully before you opt for this solution.

VPN

You need Steam to think you’re connecting from a different network than the one you made so many failed attempts from. To do that, consider using a VPN. The VPN will mask your IP and allow you to by-pass the soft ban. If you’re already using a VPN, disconnect it and connect to the internet directly. The end-result will be the same. Once the 30 minute ban expires, you can use Steam the way you normally do i.e., with or without a VPN.

Make sure you choose a good VPN if that’s the route you go with. Some VPNs don’t do a good job at masking your IP while others don’t encrypt traffic. We recommend using ExpressVPN if you’re in the market for a service. It’s fast and reliable, and also as secure as they come. AddictiveTips readers can also get the first three months free if they purchase an annual plan.

Read How to fix Steam too many login failures from your network error by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to disable up next video on Facebook [Firefox]

Auto-playing videos have become a thing. Websites like Facebook and YouTube will automatically play the next, suggested video for you in a bid to keep you engaged (and unproductive). With YouTube, you can turn off auto-play for the next video but there’s no way to disable the up next video on Facebook. You can turn off auto-play but once you’re watching a video, and you watch it to the end, the up next box will pop up and start playing the next video after a brief countdown.

Disable up next video

To stop auto-play for the next video on Facebook, you need an add-on called Stop next video. At present, this add-on is only available for Firefox and there doesn’t seem to be a Chrome version of it available. This means that everyone has a very good reason to abandon Chrome and switch to Firefox. The add-on makes it worth it.

Install the add-on, go to Facebook, watch any video of your choice and the ‘Up next’ box will never show up. There’s nothing you have to do to invoke it. When the video ends, you will see the same collage of suggested videos on the video player but the Up Next box will not appear and no videos will play automatically.

This is perhaps one of the most annoying things about Facebook and it isn’t limited to just the web interface. The Facebook iOS and Android apps act the same way except the count down before the next video starts is even shorter on the apps. The video player on Facebook isn’t designed to be easy or convenient to use. It’s meant to send users down a rabbit hole of never ending videos. It’s possibly the only video player that, when clicked in the timeline, will maximize instead of pausing the video and there’s still no add-on or extension that can disable it.

Facebook responded to the initial user outrage about auto-playing videos by adding an option to disable them but that option applies only to the videos on your timeline. If you’re already watching a video, the next one, and the one after that, will automatically play. What’s worse is that Facebook’s algorithm and subsequently its suggested videos are garbage. Often, they’re unreleated to what you are currently watching and include videos related to something you may have watched days or even weeks ago. This is a feature that needs an off switch, and this add-on needs a Chrome port.

Read How to disable up next video on Facebook [Firefox] by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to remotely wipe an iPhone from the desktop

iPhones are generally very secure. If your iPhone were to be stolen, cracking the password wouldn’t be easy. Your phone might be wiped and sold but the data is mostly safe. If you haven’t used any form of security, or whoever has your phone might be able to guess the password/passcode, you can wipe it from your desktop. Here’s how you can remotely wipe an iPhone.

Requirements

In order to remotely wipe an iPhone, you must have;

  • Find my iPhone enabled on your iPhone
  • Access to the Apple ID connected to your iPhone
  • Access to a desktop web browser

Remotely wipe an iPhone

Visit iCloud and sign in with the same Apple ID that you use on your iPhone. If you have two factor authentication set up, you will need access to a Mac or your iPhone to get the code. The iPhone is obviously not in your possession so that’s out of the question. If you don’t own a Mac, click the option that says you didn’t get the code, and select ‘More Options’.

You will be asked to verify your phone number, and provide a new one. It can take some time for Apple to verify your identity so you may not be able to remotely wipe your phone in one day. Go through the recovery options, and choose what suits you.

Once you’re able to sign into iCloud, go to Find my iPhone.

Select your iPhone from All Devices.

At the top right corner, you will see a card with three options, one of which is Erase iPhone. Click it and your phone will be wiped.

In order for the wipe operation to be sent to your iPhone, it must be connected to the internet. If it’s been stolen, it is possible that whoever has it was able to turn WiFi and Cellular data off from the Control Center. iCloud cannot enable those two toggles so the wipe will only take place once your iPhone connects to the internet.

Once your iPhone is online, the wipe command only needs a few seconds to initiate the wipe. The phone doesn’t need to be constantly connected to the internet for it to be wiped. Wiping the iPhone will remove your Apple ID and disable Find my iPhone from it. If your phone is later recovered, you may have a difficult time proving it belongs to you. If you still have the box it came it though, it will help as will any receipts you might have of the purchase. If you’ve registered the device with your Apple ID, you can use that as a way to prove it is your phone.

Read How to remotely wipe an iPhone from the desktop by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to get the old Gmail design back

Gmail recently had a design overhaul. The new design is slightly different but not many things have moved. It’s cleaner and to some, it might also be easier to navigate, plus it makes room for the new features that were added such as smart compose, snooze, and nudge. At first, you could opt-in to the new design however, it is now the default design and there’s no opting out of it. If you’re not averse to using extensions/add-ons in your browser, you can still get the old Gmail design back.

Chrome

Getting the old Gmail design back in Chrome is pretty simple. There’s an extension that you can install and it will take care of everything for you. Install Gmail Classic Theme from the Chrome Web Store, and visit Gmail.

You will see the old Gmail design. Going back to the old design will not remove any of the new features. Most of the changes that you see will be in the column on the left.

Firefox & Opera

The Gmail Classic Theme extension is basically changing the CSS used on Gmail when it loads in your browser and the developer has provided steps on how you can do that on Firefox and Opera without using their extension.

You will need to use an add-on/extension that can change the CSS used on Gmail. The developer of Gmail Classic Theme recommends using Stylus. Download and install the extension/add-on in your browser. Visit the Github page for the Gmail Classic Theme extension and copy the code in the file named Gmail.css.

Return to your browser and click the Stylus extension’s icon. In the little window that opens, click Manage. This will open a new configuration window.

Click Write new style on the left, and name the new style Gmail Classic. Once you’ve entered the name, paste the copied CSS code into the panel on the right. Under this panel, there’s an option called ‘Applies to everything’. Next to it, there’s a plus button. Click it and from the dropdown, select the option ‘URLs on this domain’. In the domain field, enter┬ámail.google.com. Click the Save button at the top left, and visit Gmail. You will get the old Gmail design.

If you want, you can use any other add-on/extension instead of Stylus to change the CSS that’s used when you visit Gmail. The code provided by the developer will still work so if you need to do this for Safari, or Internet Explorer, or Edge, just find the right extension and you’re half-way home.

Read How to get the old Gmail design back by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter