OTT Explains: What Is Bloatware & How To Identify It On Your Computer

When you buy a computer or phone, it usually comes with preinstalled software.

Some of them are useful, while others are just downright annoying as they can cause your device to run slowly, freeze, or crash. They can also drain the processor and battery, while hogging some of your precious storage space.

These often never-used additional software programs installed on your device’s operating system commonly include multimedia, security, internet, utilities, and productivity tools.

The common technical term for this type of software is bloatware.

What Is Bloatware?

Bloatware, which is also known as junkware, crapware, and shovelware, is the technical term given to software that consumes more than its fair share of system resources and disk space on your computer or phone, such that it affects its performance and storage space.

These unwieldy apps usually come in three different sets: software suites installed by the device manufacturer, your network provider, or apps and content that third parties have paid to pre-install on your device.

Sometimes you don’t know they’re there or even notice them until they’re brought to your attention.

If you find your device acting up, whether it’s slowing down or its battery is draining fast, one of the best ways of restoring it is to delete or disable bloatware.

However, it can be dangerous to do so in some cases because bloatware can create security loopholes that hackers can leverage to take over your device or lock you out of it altogether.

Worse still, some types of bloatware permanently reside on your device and refuse to be disabled or deleted.

How To Identify Bloatware On Your Computer

Bloatware comes in many forms, but the most common are trialware, which is included on your device for free but works for a specific trial period (30 days to 6 months) until you purchase a license. Adware is another type of bloatware, which is dangerous as it exists to serve you with ads via popups or websites that show on your device’s screen.

Other bloatware types include system utilities and some useful apps. PC manufacturers usually include their own software on computers besides pre installing full versions of specialized third-party tools.

For example, in a Lenovo computer, you’ll find the Lenovo Solution Center, which is basically a maintenance application that ensures your software is updated and checks your hardware for any issues.

In some cases, such software can be uninstalled, but in others you can’t. Plus, they tend to duplicate the functionality of software that’s already installed on your device.

The main aim for saddling your device with bloatware is to increase revenues and give consumers extra software they may want to use.

What Is the Bloatware Threat To Your Devices?

Bloatware is unwanted software that’s poorly designed and developed, and that tends to hog your device’s memory because it’s built atop ill-structured code.

You may find your device taking too long to boot up, whether it’s new or used, or it has slower reaction times whenever you click or tap on something.  In most cases, you may assume that something is wrong with your device and try to get a replacement for it, but it could be the bloatware that’s degrading its performance.

The problem comes in when the bloatware on your device exposes you to several cybersecurity risks. Some of these unwanted apps connect to the internet and could expose your device to malware by introducing other applications that are known to exploit your personal information, computing power, and other data.

Lenovo came under heavy criticism in 2016 for pre-installing software on its products. By downloading system tools and updates that supposedly improve computers’ performance, the software created security vulnerabilities instead that allowed downloaded Trojan viruses to creep into the operating systems.

After months of consumer complaints, articles and cybersecurity analyst reports about the issue, the company finally stopped the practice.

Device manufacturers aren’t the only ones that install bloatware. Users do it too through their web behavior thanks to the use of cookies in web browsers.

Cookies are small tracking software used to trace users on the web. Some cookies send information back to the websites’ owners, but others could be malware that transmit your personal and sensitive data to hackers via command-and-control servers.

Removing the bloatware can exponentially increase your device’s performance, and save you on costs of getting a replacement.

How To Remove Bloatware On Your Device

You can get rid of bloatware from your device, but not all of them can be uninstalled, deleted or removed altogether.

The first and simplest step to take is to go through your device and manually delete any software that you don’t use, have never used, and don’t want. Just be careful that you don’t remove an important program while you’re at it.

If it’s a Windows PC, you can use the Refresh Windows tool to remove apps that aren’t preinstalled with Windows, like those put there by your PC manufacturer.

You can also remove bloatware using third-party programs that detect and help you remove such software. These include PC Decrapifier or Should I Remove It? The main drawback with using these utilities is that they may identify some bloatware, but not automate their removal, which means you have to go through the usual uninstallation process.  Otherwise buy a bloatware-free computer like the Microsoft Windows Signature Edition PCs.

For smartphones and tablets, you may not be able to uninstall manufacturer-made apps, but you can disable them via your phone’s settings.

The only way of truly uninstalling bloatware system apps is for your computer manufacturer to remove them for you, or root your smartphone, which again compromises its security.

What Is Creative Commons & Explanation Of Each License

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that helps to create a large library of creative works for individuals and businesses to share and work with for free. As a creator, you can claim free licenses through Creative Commons which allows you to share your work to the public.

As somebody looking for content, you’re free to use Creative Commons licensed work such as artwork, photos, educational papers, scientific research or music, as long as you follow the rules for attributing the creators.

The benefit Creative Commons provides in our creative-driven world is immeasurable. Let’s take a closer look at how it all works, why it’s so powerful for creative content and how each license works.

What Is Creative Commons and How Does It Work?

Creative Commons has been built to offer an alternative to copyright. Instead of handing out DMCA takedowns and copyright strikes when an individual uses your work, you instead pick up a Creative Commons license so that others can freely use your work, so long as they credit you properly.

As an art creator, you can get your art, photos or music in front of a larger audience and help to grow your brand. You also get that fuzzy feeling that comes with sharing your work instead of holding it close to your chest.

As a creative in need of art or music, you are able to use Creative Commons licensed content so long as you credit authors properly. Guidelines are provided on the official Creative Commons website for this, but it essentially means including written credit of the author’s name, the title of the work, a link to the source and a link to the license. Some licenses have some restrictions, which we’ll explain later. 

Let’s give an example of how Creative Commons can be beneficial to both artists and content creators. Let’s say a music artist is creating great instrumental music, but they are having a hard time promoting it. If the artist acquired free Creative Commons licenses for their songs, they could promote it as copyright free on platforms like YouTube and Soundcloud. 

Content creators searching for background music for their videos on YouTube or Instagram, for example, could then use the artist’s music and include the correct attribution in their video description or caption.

The end result would be the content creator can create higher quality content, and the artist may get more views on their content thanks to new interest from the content creator’s audience.

What Creative Commons Licenses Are There?

What’s great about Creative Commons is that there are a number of licenses to choose from, giving artists and researchers more control over how they share their work. We will explain how each of these licenses work below. 

If you are looking to use Creative Commons licensed work, you must check to see what license the content has before using it, because some restrictions for usage will apply, as you’ll see below.

Attribution (CC BY)

With the standard Creative Commons attribution license, others are able to share, remix, edit and distribute work. They are even given the freedom to distribute it commercially, so long as they credit the author properly.

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

Attribution ShareAlike is similar to the standard attribution license. It allows others to use, edit remix, re-sell and re-distribute work, but any redistributed work will also include the same Attribution-ShareAlike license. 

The difference between Attribution and Attribution ShareALike is that an individual has the freedom to place a standard copyright license with any work they have created that uses standard Creative Commons CC BY work. With Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike, this isn’t possible.

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

With this license, others can reuse licensed work, even commercially, but they cannot share adapted versions of it and they must always credit the original author.

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

With the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, others can remix, edit, and adapt licensed work, but they do not have the right to offer it commercially. If this license is used, any remixed or edited work can then by copyrighted by its new owners.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

With Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, licensed work can be edited, remixed, and built upon, but it cannot be offered commercially, and new edited work cannot be copyrighted – the newly edited work must hold the same Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

This is the most restrictive Creative Commons license but it still gives some freedom for others to use your work. Others can download and share your work so long as they credit the author, but they cannot change the work in anyway and cannot use it commercially.

How To Get a Creative Commons License

It’s completely free and very easy to get a Creative Commons license. First visit the Creative Commons share your work page and go through the steps. Make sure to enter your name, the title of your work, and the right URLS. The website will pick out a license based on what options you select.

You’ll then be given the media, text and HTML code to display your license online. Creative Commons licenses can be enforceable in a court of law, and there is evidence of this, but you’ll need to speak to a lawyer or your legal team on the correct steps to take.

How To Find Creative Commons Content Online

If you’re a creator looking for creative commons content, you’ll be happy to hear that there are some excellent search tools available for finding Creative Commons content online. We’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest resources available.

Creative Commons Search

It makes sense to start with the search engine built straight into the official Creative Commons website. This tool will search their entire database for Creative Commons images. You can also filter searches for file type, sources, and even by license type. 

For example, if you need to find content you can modify and redistribute, you can filter for the BY and BY-SA licenses.

Google Images

Google has powerful advanced tools that allows you to quickly filter by usage rights. Go to Google images, search for a phrase, and then click the Tools button. After that, click the Usage rights drop-down box and you’ll have a number of options. 

Choose an option and Google will automatically filter images that are labelled with Creative Commons licenses, similar licenses, or are in the public domain. Just like when choosing content with the right Creative Commons license, make sure to click the right search filter that suits your needs. 

Below is an overview, based on the guidelines from Google.

  • Labelled for reuse: Images with this filter can be redistributed, even commercially, if the content remains unmodified.
  • Labelled for use with modification: Images with this filter can be changed in any way and redistributed, even commercially.
  • Labelled for noncommercial use: You may find more search options with this selected, but remember that any results with this filter cannot be for commercial use.

Flickr 

Flickr is a powerful image hosting service, most renowned for great photography. When you search, you can click the “any license” drop-down box to select Creative Commons licenses.

The returned results will all be available under Creative Commons. Click on each individual photo to see more details about what license is used and attribution details.

Blender-Models

3D modelling is a skill that takes years to master, so it can be harder to find free content to use. However, one great platform is the Blender-Models website, where all models have CC licenses and you can quickly search by model category.

Freesound

That’s right, you can even find free audio under Creative Commons. This includes user-submitted sound effects, songs, and atmospheric sounds. Simply sign up for free, make a search, and click the licenses filter on the right side of the search results. 

Content is rated and download count is shown, making it very easy to find good quality sounds for all sorts of content.

How To Stop Robotic Voice Issues On Discord

If you are hearing robotic or distorted voices on Discord, you may be hitting a problem with your network or the processing power on your computer. Most of the time, fixing voice issues can be quite easy, so we’ll guide you through everything you need to do to get your voice sounding smooth again.

This is a troubleshooting guide, so you’ll need to follow each step one by one until you have found a solution that works for you. We will start with the easiest solutions first and will leave the more difficult troubleshooting steps till last. Hopefully, you’ll have your issues solved before you finish the article.

How To Fix Robotic, Distorted Voices On Discord

Usually, Discord will hit these kind of robotic voice issues when your ping is too high to the server you’re speaking on. You can change your voice server to something that is closer to you so that ping is reduced. 

To do this, you must be an admin of the server. If you aren’t the admin, send this article to an admin or moderator so that they can help you.

As a server admin, you can change your voice server location by following these steps. 

  • Once connected to your server, click your server name in the top left. Next, click Server Settings.
  • On the following page, click Change under the server region box on the overview tab. You won’t see the ping for the regions, but you should choose whichever server is closest to the users of your server. If you have a wide range of users, try to find one that is geographically closest to the largest number of users.
  • It can take some time for the region to change, so try again in a few hours to see if the problem is resolved. If the server is already the closest to your current physical location, try the next closest location instead.

Disable QoS In Discord

If this is an isolated issue that you are having trouble with, try switching off Quality of Service (QoS). The QoS feature in Discord won’t work as intended with some routers and it can cause issues with how you are hearing robotic voices in your server. 

  • To switch off QoS, first open Discord, then click the small cog at the bottom left, labelled User Settings.
  • Under the App Settings section on the left, click Voice & Video
  • Next, scroll down and click to turn off Enable Quality of Service High Packet Priority.

Limit Background Network Usage

If server location and ping isn’t a concern, it may be related to local network problems. Run a speed test and see if your speeds are being throttled in any way. 

If any of your speeds are very low, it may be because somebody on your network is downloading or uploading, which is using all of your bandwidth. If that is the case, try to set up an arrangement with those you share the network with to limit bandwidth. 

You can use software like NetLimiter to limit bandwidth per PC, or set up quality of service on your router to determine bandwidth limits. You’ll need to contact your internet provider to learn more about quality of service on your particular router.

You should also restart your router. It can be surprising how often just resetting your router can resolve any potential internet issues like hearing robotic voices in Discord.

Check Performance In Task Manager

If you experience robotic, distorted voices at certain times, for example, when playing games or rendering 3D images, use CTRL + SHIFT + ESC any time you have issues. This will open Task Manager, and you’ll be able to see your current hardware usage.

In Task Manager, click the Performance tab to see your hardware utilization. If anything is hitting 100%, you may need to upgrade that particular part. 

Typically, issues related with voice may be due to your CPU hitting 100%. If you cannot upgrade your PC, you can try to limit other apps that are running in the background, or if you’re using Discord whilst gaming, reduce the graphics settings. Turning down things like render distance or effects detail can help to relieve the strain on your processor.

Upgrade To Nitro

If your server is overloaded, it could simply be that there are too many users in the voice server and Discord is having difficulties. With a $9.99 monthly subscription, you can become a Discord Nitro member. This will give you a boost that can be used on your server to give it 128kbps audio quality. At 15 boosts, you will get access to 256kbps audio quality and at 30 boosts you can get 384kbps audio quality.

The upgrade to 128kbps audio is cheap, but the others aren’t so much, so if you aren’t willing to spend on this upgrade, you could always consider an alternative team chat app if your server has too many people in it, speaking at one time.

3 Ways To Come Up With the Most Secure Password

As the internet has grown to fight back against password crackers and other hackers, they’ve fought back just as hard. The introduction of CAPTCHA presented a huge roadblock for password thieves, but methods such as OCR (optical character recognition) have helped defeat it.

Now more than ever, having the most secure password is crucial. Two decades ago, common advice would be to simply never use a dictionary word as your password. Today, it’s much more complex than that.

Until the adoption of alternative methods of account security, proper password etiquette can save you countless hours of headaches and frustration. In this article, let’s discuss three methods that you can use to create strong and secure passwords.

Using a Secure Password Generator

For many, the best solution to creating the most secure password is actually to not create one yourself at all. Relying on a random password generator, be it through a site like Random.org or a tool such as LastPass, guarantees a quick way of creating an unlimited number of secure passwords.

We suggest that you create a password at least 12 characters in length, using all of letters, numbers, and symbols. Some sites will limit your password length and restrict the use of symbols, but those can be handled as special cases when you arrive at them. Don’t limit your overall security just because of a few fringe outliers.

This is a solid method because it guarantees that your password will be incredibly secure, but it comes at a major cost: How will you remember the password? For many, it comes down to these two options:

  • Writing it down, either in a file or on paper
  • Storing it in a password manager such as LastPass

However, both have potential downfalls. You can lose paper and your computer files can be lost or hacked, and what’s stopping your password manager from suffering a breach? After all, it has to be protected by a password, too.

On the upside, the best password managers offer multiple forms of authentication. For example, with LastPass, you can protect your account by both an account password and a two-factor authentication device that you can keep with you physically.

Using Sentences Or Phrases

Everyone remembers things differently. Some people have very photographic memories, while others will only remember something by repeating it over and over, hundreds of times.

However, it’s easy to agree that remembering a sentence is probably easy than remembering a random 16-character alphanumeric string. You can create strong and secure passwords out of sentences or phrases that you’ll never forget.

Here’s an example: “My first dog’s name was Albert. He was a white Labrador Retriever.”

Using the first letter of each word in this sentence, and each punctuation mark, we can create this password: Mfd’nwA.HwawLR.

Like using a generator or password manager, this again comes with a downside. If you intend to use unique passwords for every website, which you should, remembering which sentence or phrase is assigned to each is just as difficult as remembering your obscure passwords. However, you might be able to pull it off!

Using a Base

Using a password as a base to generate other secure passwords is a method that you won’t find discussed on many other sites, but we believe that it’s one of the best and most versatile ways to both remember an infinite number of passwords and use a unique password for (almost) every website or app.

Start by coming up with a base password. For this example, we’ll use this:

aNT@qV$tk8kQ

You will need to memorize the base password. To do so, you can even create a base that’s built off of our sentence method. Since the base password will never be a full password that you use, you can even write it down somewhere while you’re in the process of memorizing it.

Next, come up with a simple formula to create a short string based on the websites or apps you use. One method you could use is considering the domain name. 

For example, Online Tech Tips’ domain name is online-tech-tips.com. Now, let’s take the first two and last two letters of the domain name, without the extension (.com), and add it to our base. We’ll use the first two letters as a prefix and the last two letters as a suffix.

Our password is now this: onaNT@qV$tk8kQps

Since every website has to have a domain name, this is a really solid method. However, you may want to modify this in the case of using mobile apps. For these, you can simply use the same trick while considering the app’s name. Like this, the password for your Discord app would be as follows: DiaNT@qV$tk8kQrd

The only drawback of this method is in the event that several of your passwords are somehow leaked to the same person. If they’re savvy enough, they may be able to figure out how you’re generating each password. In that case, they’ve effectively stolen them all.

If you’re not willing to use the single choke-point of a password manager, creating your own unique, strong, and most secure passwords is an extremely valuable skill. Regardless of your approach, sticking with it is very important. 

The moment you become lazy or complacent and begin reusing passwords or making use of passwords that aren’t complex enough, your security is at risk.

OTT Explains : What Is The Difference Between POP & IMAP In My Email Account?

If you’ve ever set up an email account manually, then you’ve been asked for your email provider’s POP or IMAP server settings. These are necessary directions that the email program needs before it can retrieve email from your account.

Just like how your address and password are unique to your email account, IMAP and POP server settings are unique to every email provider. Gmail’s IMAP server settings, for example, are different from Yahoo’s, and both company’s IMAP settings are different from their own POP server settings.

So, you have two options, but which one do you need? What is the difference between IMAP and POP? Is IMAP better than POP? Can you use IMAP and POP, or do you have to choose? 

Below is everything you need to know about IMAP and POP, including the benefits and disadvantages of both and links on how to set up your email using IMAP or POP.

The Difference Between IMAP And POP

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. POP stands for Post Office Protocol. Both are used by an email program to download messages from the email server. 

So regardless of the email service you use, if you want to access your mail away from their webmail site, you must use the service’s specific IMAP or POP server settings.

However, there’s a major difference between IMAP and POP. When you’re communicating via IMAP, the email program can manage the messages directly from the server, including marking the emails as read, deleting them from the server, moving emails between folders, and more. 

Anything you do in the email program will also be done on the email server, so any other email client that’s connected to that account over IMAP will experience those identical changes.

POP is limited to downloading the emails only. When you’re using POP email servers, your email program can’t send commands back to the server like IMAP can. Once messages have been downloaded, anything you do to them isn’t reflected on the server. 

If you delete them or move them into other folders, you’ll see the changes in that email program only, not through the webmail interface or on any other email program you use with that email account.

Should I Use IMAP Or POP?

This decision is completely up to you, but it makes the most sense to use IMAP.

You should pick IMAP over POP if you want maximum flexibility. You’ll be able to access your email on as many devices as you want, and have them all be synchronized. When you delete an email from your phone, the same email will be removed when you check your messages on a computer or on your tablet. Sending an email on one device will show up in the sent box on another device. This makes the most sense for most people.

However, if your email provider gives you limited storage space for emails, POP might be preferred. Consider an example where you have a measly 200 MB of email space. If you use IMAP, and you want to keep all of your emails forever, you’ll quickly run low on space. 

However, you could instead use POP to download the emails to your computer where you have more storage. As long as you set up your email account to remove emails from the server after they’ve been downloaded, you’ll never run out of space on the server but will also never lose a message (so long as you have them backed up on your device).

If you prefer as little setup as possible, IMAP should be your choice. Most email providers disable POP by default but leave IMAP access open. If you decide to use POP, you might need to go into your email settings from a web browser first so that you can enable POP access.

As you can see, the choice really is up to you and your situation. You can choose IMAP for its features but possibly run low on storage space if you keep too many emails, or you can choose POP to never run low on storage but miss out on the handy syncing features.

How To Use IMAP Or POP

Many modern email clients let you log into your email through a web login interface where all you need to know is your email address and password. But if you’re entering IMAP or POP settings, you have to know some other details.

These are the IMAP and POP server settings for some common email providers.

SMTP: Important But Different

POP and IMAP aren’t the only email server settings you need to know when setting up email on a device. While the former two are for downloading mail, SMTP settings are for sending mail.

If you don’t have the right SMTP server settings configured on your device, the client won’t know how to send mail from your account. You might have no problem downloading mail, but you won’t be able to successfully send new messages.

Most email services use an SMTP server like smtp.server.com. Gmail’s SMTP server, for example, is simply smtp.gmail.com. However, others are a little different, like Outlook.com’s: smtp.office365.com.