Tip of the Week: How to Make an Animated Image From Your Favorite YouTube Video

b2ap3_thumbnail_animate_your_gifs_400.jpgGIFs. What are they? If you’ve spent any time perusing the Internet, you’ve definitely come across a GIF or two. Essentially, a GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is an animated picture that loops a few seconds of a video clip (without playing any audio). In addition to GIFs being fun, they can serve as a great way to enhance digital communications. How can you take advantage of GIFs?

Actually, GIFs can be shared easily enough. Regarding most forms of digital communication, you would download, upload, and share a GIF in the same way that you would with any digital image, like a JPEG and PNG file. It’s finding the perfect GIF, or making one, that takes a bit of luck and skill.

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Searching the Web for a GIF
You might be surprised to find out just how many GIFs exist on the Internet for your downloading pleasure. You can use Google Search to easily find the exact animated picture that you have in mind. To do this, simply type into Google’s search bar what it is you’re looking for and hit Enter. Next, select Images > Search Tools > Type > Animated.

From here, you’ll see a web page populated with relevant images. Note: you won’t be able to see what the animation looks like unless you click once on the image (be careful, clicking twice on an image will take you to the page it’s found on). To download the GIF for future use, simply right click it, and select Save image as… just as you would with any digital image.

Making Your Own GIF From YouTube
It’s astounding just how many GIFs there are on the Internet, but what if you can’t find the exact GIF you’re looking for? If this is the case, you can use a video clip posted to YouTube to make the GIF you need.

To do this, you’ll first want to go to YouTube and find a video containing the desired clip. Next, copy the URL of the video, located in either the form at the top of your browser, or below the video after selecting Share.

From here, go to gifs.com and paste the video’s YouTube URL in the provided form. Next, select Create GIF. This will take you to a new page displaying your YouTube video in what appears to be crude video editing software. As prompted by the text boxes, assign your GIF a title in the top form, and then move the slider to the spot in the video at where you would like your GIF to begin and end. You can also manually enter in the GIFs start time in the Start time form.

Next, you’ll want to select the duration of your GIF. By default, it will be set to five seconds, so be sure to adjust the clip’s time span more or less as needed. You can also fine tune the timing of your GIF even further by hovering over the Duration form and selecting the up and down arrows. If desired, you can also add captions to the GIF by selecting Add Caption to the left of the video and following the directions.

As you make adjustments to your video, you will see a preview of the GIF. Once you’ve got everything set to how you want it, select Create GIF. From here, Gifs.com will generate your file and take you to a new page displaying your GIF. To the right of the GIF is the GIF’s URL, file path (if you wish to download it and save it on your PC), and the embed code if you wish to add it to a website. You will also notice the various social media icons if you want to share your GIF creation over your favorite social media sites.

How to Block and Unsubscribe from Users with Gmail’s New Features

b2ap3_thumbnail_hold_up_in_gmail_400.jpgWe all know how annoying spam and unwanted emails can be when you’re trying to navigate your inbox. While a quality spam filter can go a long way toward eliminating these irritating time-wasters, Gmail now has a feature that lets you dodge some of this pain. With the ability to block selected users and unsubscribe from email campaigns, you can reclaim plenty of time that you might have been wasting weeding out your inbox.

Before we dig into the details, though, it should be mentioned that, while Gmail’s new feature is indeed a good first step towards eliminating spam in your inbox, it’s by no means a guarantee that you’ll see a significantly less amount of time-wasting messages. A comprehensive spam-blocking solution is often necessary to keep malicious emails and other time-wasting junk out of your inbox. Just because you block or unsubscribe from a particular email address doesn’t mean that emails won’t start pouring in from another source. If you have concerns over your current levels of spam and junk mail, feel free to contact Amaxx at 614.486.3481

Still, Gmail is taking strides to make it easier for the average consumer to take advantage of the benefits of email, without the negative side-effects, like spam. If you happen to be receiving an alarming number of messages from a specific person that you don’t want to hear from, or if something just looks plain sketchy, you can block anything further from the sender. Any blocked messages will immediately be sent straight to your spam folder. To block someone, all you have to do is open an email from the sender you want to block, click on the down-arrow next to the reply button, and select Block “user.”

Gmail’s unsubscribe feature works in a similar manner to the unsubscribe links that you might find in various advertisement emails, like ones you might get from Amazon or other big-box retailers. On the Android Gmail app (the most recent version – this feature isn’t on the desktop version of Gmail yet), open a message from the user you want to unsubscribe from. Click the three-dot More button next to Reply and select Unsubscribe.

While this doesn’t necessarily block spam completely, it’s a good step in the right direction. Your goal shouldn’t be to send all spam to the spam folder; in order to achieve maximum productivity and email security, you want to prevent spam altogether. For more tips on how to accomplish this feat, give Amaxx a call at 614.486.3481
. Also, be sure to subscribe to our blog, where we often post about the latest security developments, security how-tos, and much more. When it comes to securing your email from spam, and protecting your business from hackers, you need all of the help you can get.

Tip of the Week: How to Save Your Keyboard After Spilling Your Drink On It

b2ap3_thumbnail_keyboard_cleaning_400.jpgYou know that you shouldn’t keep a beverage near your computer, but how good are you at actually abiding by this best practice? Due to the busyness of our modern lives, it’s likely that most office workers eat more meals at their computer than away from it. Inevitably, this will lead to a drink spilt on your keyboard, which can put you in a rather sticky situation.

When your keyboard takes an unintended plunge, what can you do about it?

First off, don’t just sit there with your keyboard sopping wet and try typing into Google, “How to clean Mountain Dew off my keyboard.” The liquid will only seep further into your keyboard, making it extremely difficult to type. Actually, a sugary substance like Mountain Dew will cause your keys to stick, which means that your Google Search query would actually look something like this:

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Don’t lollygag when faced with a liquid-on-your-keyboard crisis or you’ll just make the problem worse. Instead, take immediate action by following these five steps:

Power Off Your Computer and Disconnect the Keyboard
By far, your computer is way more important than your keyboard (and quite possibly your outfit that also took a Mountain Dew bath). Therefore, as soon as you can, be sure to either disconnect your keyboard. Most modern keyboards are USB, so they can be unplugged with the computer on, but other keyboards use round connectors. Unplugging the round connectors while the PC is on could cause damage, so if you aren’t sure just shut the PC down before disconnecting the keyboard. Act quickly, the liquid may seep into the keyboard’s circuits and cause some problems (and not the good kind like we saw from Coca-cola’s spilt-soda-on-computer scenario).

Flip the Keyboard Upside Down and Give it a Good Shaking
When you encounter a spill, your first instinct is to get up and grab a towel. Before you do that, flip your keyboard over and shake it. Basically, when dealing with a spill, you’ve got precious little time to locate a towel while the ill-fated beverage seeps deeper and deeper into your circuits.

Wipe Down Your Keyboard
After gravity has done its job and drained as much liquid as possible, now is the time to use a dry cloth to wipe down your mess. Do what you can to get in between the keys, but don’t do anything drastic like apply too much force or pop off the keys, yet. For now, the goal is clean up, not detailing.

Let it Dry Overnight
Next, find a dry place to let your keyboard sit upside down overnight. When you come back to it the next day, look for any additional moisture that may be left and give it a wiping.

Check for Stickiness
Before plugging in your now-dry keyboard, press on every key to check for stickiness. This will most likely be the case if you split a sugary substance, like Mountain Dew. To clean out the stickiness, you’ll have to remove the keys to really clean underneath. Computer Hope offers some solid advice on how to do this:

Removing a standard keyboard key is simple. Start by pressing down on the key in front of the key you want to remove and insert a flat object such as a car key… or a small flathead screwdriver below the key. Once below the key twist it or push down until the key pops off. If you want to remove more than one key, repeat this process until all keys are removed.

Once you’ve got your keys removed, using a tool like a Q-tip will really help with those small and hard-to-reach places, with both your keyboard and your ear canal.

Lastly, with your keyboard fully cleaned and dry, plug it in and give it a spin. If you were fast-acting enough to catch the mess, then you might have been able to save it. Although, if the spill was too great, then your keyboard might be toast and you’ll have to replace it. You’ll know for sure when you sit down with your cleaned keyboard and try it out.

We hope that you’ve found this week’s tip helpful. For more great technology tips, subscribe to Amaxx’s blog and check back every week.

3 Easy Ways to Go Incognito In Google Chrome

b2ap3_thumbnail_incognito_mode_400.jpgThe Internet can be a dangerous place. Sometimes you want to keep your identity a secret on the web. Now, your reasons for doing so aren’t any of our business, but you should know that there are several ways to access this secretive function in Google Chrome. Here are three ways you can take advantage of Google Chrome’s Incognito mode to browse the web in an anonymous fashion.

Why Incognito Mode?
Incognito mode has several advantages over your typical Google Chrome browsing session. For one, you can allow someone to use their Google account on your device without signing out of your current session. On the other hand, sometimes you might not want your browsing history to stick around. While this is often associated with viewing questionable content online, it’s also convenient when planning for a surprise party or purchasing a gift so that the recipient isn’t aware of the situation.

Keep in mind that, while you’re browsing the web in a more anonymous fashion than you would be normally, your activity can still be seen by your Internet service provider (ISP).

The Classic Way to Incognito Mode
Activating Incognito mode is super easy, but it requires a couple of steps. First, click on the hamburger menu in the corner of Chrome, titled Customize and control Google Chrome.

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Next, click on New incognito window. Your new window should pop right up.

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Open a New Incognito Window Through Right-Clicking
Let’s say you find an article on the web that you really want to view, but you’re not sure who could be watching your activity. In order to avoid showing them what you’re viewing, you can right-click a link and select Open in incognito window. Another situation where this might be useful is when you’re shopping for something particular that you don’t want another user to see in the search history. Simply right-click the item you’re considering to privately browse it.

A Simple Two-Click Solution
If neither of these solutions are simple enough, the easiest way to access Incognito mode is by taking advantage of the top of your Chrome window, and selecting the account button to the left of the minimize button. This gives you the option to either switch users or go incognito, providing more than one solution to the issue in one handy location.

Or, better yet: here’s a keyboard shortcut that opens up incognito mode. Just use Ctrl+Shift+N to open a new incognito window.

For more tips and tricks about how to be more productive in the workplace, call Amaxx at 614.486.3481

Tip of the Week: Adjust Windows 10’s Privacy Settings to Keep Your Information Secure

b2ap3_thumbnail_windows_10_privacy_400.jpgIt would be prudent to begin by saying that Windows 10 is far and away the most refined version of Windows ever created. In a lot of ways, it’s like using a souped-up version of Windows 7, with a sprinkling of Windows 8/8.1 metro on top. Beneath the surface, however, is a vast information-collecting infrastructure that has many users left worried about their privacy. There are even conspiracy theories suggesting that Windows 10 is a vessel used by the NSA in order to collect all the information on every user.

Anyone that is familiar with the fallout of Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing campaign knows that government agencies don’t need Microsoft’s software engineers to syphon as much information as they want, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some potential privacy issues with the new OS. In fact, it could be said that the default settings of Windows 10 violate user privacy. Here are some of the ways they do so.

Advertising ID
The first privacy issue users are having with Windows 10 is that each user is automatically assigned an ID based on the email address they use to sign in. By capturing information using this ID, Windows 10 will tailor the advertisements that users see when surfing the web or uses certain applications.

In order to get the most comprehensive user experience available, the Cortana application collects data; and not just essential data, but seemingly everything. In attempting to make the best personal assistant application on the market, Microsoft has made it a point to capture every piece of information they can. This presents privacy issues for some, but they’re likely no more intrusive than Cortana’s competitors: Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now.

Windows Modern Apps
Windows Modern or Universal Apps are also at the center of the perceived controversy. Each of these apps collects your location, which is no different than their Windows 8.1 versions. The situation that is presenting problems for users’ privacy is the advanced reporting these apps do to the central Microsoft servers. For example, when using the very useful OneNote app, the content of the notes are synced with the Microsoft servers.

Many users will not mind receiving better services in return for computing information, but many users are up in arms on Windows 10 policy of deliberately sharing all captured information with their “partners”; a series of third-party vendors that can use this information to improve their sales and marketing tactics. For the purposes of user privacy, however, there are actions that can be taken to limit the ability for Windows 10 to report user computing performance.

First, you need to access the privacy menu, which can be found in the start menu. Simply open the start menu, then click on Settings and select Privacy from the pop-up.

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One thing that can be said for Windows 10 is that there are a lot of options. Each one of the privacy settings above represents the ability for Windows 10 to work for the user, albeit by the user sacrificing their privacy. The first suggestion we have, if you are one of the many users that feel as if Microsoft doesn’t need to know every movement you make on your home PC, is to disable the targeted advertising ID.

privacy ib 2From this screen users can also turn off SmartScreen Filter if you are worried about the Windows Store syphoning links to Store items. Many users will choose to leave this option on, but will want to turn the other two off. “Send Microsoft info about how I write..” is basically a keylogger, and its practical application is to provide information for Cortana and language settings that give regional information to Microsoft.

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From there, clicking on Location will take you to a list of applications that use your location. Services like weather, traffic, news, and Cortana utilize your current location to provide you the best representation of relevant information for your situation. If you are using a desktop computer, there is little value one way or the other, but on mobile, turning off applications that don’t need your location won’t hurt the perception of privacy.

It is best to leave your Camera and Microphone options toggled on if you want to use Skype or another video communications application.

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The next tab is the Speech, inking & typing tab. These options are used primarily with Cortana. If you choose not to utilize Cortana, you can consider telling Windows 10 to stop getting to know you. The problem with this is many Windows Store-based apps require your account info, making it impossible for you to turn off this option.

Privacy is a major consideration for most users on the Internet, especially in lieu of many companies’ strategy of selling off user information. These are only a couple of options that you can consider to keep your personal information personal. At Amaxx we understand why privacy and security are important for users. Our certified technicians can present you with options and best practices that will allow you to remain private and secure while online. Call us today at 614.486.3481
for more information.