Can I fix my Google Plus Custom URL?

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 09:07

You’re identified one of the problems with custom URLs on every social media service, actually: Since by default URLs are generally all in lower case, wanting to change the case of individual letters or the entire URL is problematic. Have punctuation or diacriticals in your name and want to add an ñ or é or similar? That gets even more tricky, and for some services, your personalized URL is just not going to include that.

However, Google is a savvy global company and you can indeed fix up your custom URL on Google Plus once set. Sort of.

What I’ve found is that, as you’ll see, you can definitely tweak it so that individual letters are capitalized, lower case, or with accents or similar, but sometimes it seems to forget what you’ve set, and other times it seems to work just fine. Let me show you what I mean.

First, I’m going to show you with my Business URL, though the process is identical for a personal G+ account too. For business, click “My Business” off the main menu, and if you’re on a personal account, “My Account” works instead:

Now there are a set of options along the top. Click “About”:

Now look on the lower right to the “Links” section.

It’ll show you the personalized URL, and as you can see, mine isn’t quite right:

Click on “Edit” on the lower section, however, and you can actually fix it:

Note the small print, however: “You can edit your URL to change its display format. If your Google+ URL ends with +googlechrome, you can use +GoogleChrome instead.” In other words, you can fix capitalization, which is exactly what I want.

Click in the field, fix the capitalization as you desire:

Done? Click on “Save”.

and if you’ve a personalized page, it’ll look darn similar, as I said:

That’s all there is to it. Really, not too bad.

Now I’ll be curious to see if yours “sticks” after you change it, or whether it resets to its original state.

And as for my URLs, use or to check out my personalized URLs.


The post Can I fix my Google Plus Custom URL? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Disable Facebook video auto-play to save bandwidth?

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:13

Facebook recently unleashed a change on us mobile users without much warning or explanation: The iPhone Facebook app now automatically starts playing videos that friends post to your news stream. Which means that if you’re on the cellular network rather than a handy wifi connection, every time you view your Facebook news stream, you’re automatically downloading all the videos that are shared, whether you watch them or not. That is indeed a lot of data to suddenly be consuming from your data plan, metered or otherwise. Which means your boyfriend is spot on!

Just as taxes are subtle social engineering so to are the default settings on popular mobile apps a bit of social engineering too. Facebook, of course, also has its mysterious news feed “edgerank” algorithm that is deciding what to include on your news feed anyway. Ever notice how what shows up on the mobile device is different to what you see on the Web-based Facebook interface too? Perhaps no coincidence, my Facebook news stream on my mobile is often almost all videos, all autoplaying, so all pre-loading and eating up my bandwidth. Frustrating!

Here’s what’s really interesting: You can turn off the autoplay feature in Facebook’s mobile app, but not from within the app itself. Curious.

You need to go the “Settings” on the iPhone itself, the same place you change wallpaper, security codes and set up your iCloud service.

You might need to scroll down a bit, but you’re looking for “Facebook”.

Tap on it and you’ll see some of the hidden Facebook app settings:

We’re not there yet, though. Now tap on “Settings” on this screen.

Now we’re close. Bottom of this list, “Auto-play” under the Video section.

Tap on it.

There you go. Now if you’d like, you can set it to “Wi-fi only” as I have, or you can just turn it off completely if you prefer. The key is to ensure that it’s not just set to “On” which is – frustratingly! – the default setting.

Now you’re good. And while you’re here, check out the other settings to make sure that’s how you want Facebook to work on your own Apple iPhone, iPad or similar device running iOS 7 or the newest – beta only — iOS 8 system.

And while you’re at it, why not like our page on Facebook too? Then you’ll get even more useful information about Facebook and your devices!

The post Disable Facebook video auto-play to save bandwidth? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Through the Google lens: search trends July 18-24

GoogleBlog - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 16:59
Based on search, it seems like a lot of you spent the last seven days slurping ice cream cones, jamming to pop parodies and starting the countdown to a certain February flick. Could be worse. Here’s a look at what people were searching for last week:

Fifty shades of search
Searchers were “Crazy in Love” with the new trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey, set to a special Beyonce recording of her 2003 hit. There were more than a million searches this week for the ….ahem… hotly anticipated movie, which comes out next Valentine’s Day. In addition to the trailer, people were also looking for information on stars [jamie dornan] and [dakota johnson]. Beyonce was in the spotlight for other reasons too, following rumors that her marriage to Jay-Z was on the rocks.
“Mandatory” and musical marriages
After three decades in the biz, Weird Al has finally made his way into the Billboard No. 1 spot with his latest album, “Mandatory Fun.” Though his shtick hasn’t changed, when it comes to promoting his parodies, the artist has adapted to the Internet era, releasing eight new videos in as many days to generate buzz—and more search volume than at any other point in the past five years. As an editor, of course, I’m partial to “Word Crimes” (which has more than 10 million views on YouTube), but it’s just one of the many “breakout” titles searchers are looking for, along with [tacky], [foil] and [first world problems].

In other musical news, Adam Levine’s bride [behati prinsloo] was trending this week after the two got married in Cabo San Lucas. And another Mexico wedding had people searching for information on [ryan dorsey], the new husband (after a surprise ceremony) of Glee star Naya Rivera.

Foodie ups and downs
A national fruit recall at stores like Costco and Whole Foods led people to the web to learn more about [listeria]. For many, the possible contamination may have been an extra incentive to celebrate several less than healthful food holidays: Last Sunday (or should we say sundae?) marked National Ice Cream Day, and people were searching for their favorite flavor. National Hot Dog Day took place just a few days later, though sausage searches paled in comparison. And just in case all that junk food made you thirsty, yesterday’s National Tequila Day had searchers looking for the perfect margarita recipe.
Tip of the week
Overindulged on ice cream last weekend? It’s easy to get back on the healthy eating train with a quick search. Just ask Google “how many calories in hummus?” or “compare coleslaw and potato salad” to get nutrition info on your favorite summer foods.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [coming of age in samoa] and [how old is weird al]
Categories: Technology

How do I disable theme “sounds” in Windows 8?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 07/24/2014 - 09:11

Considering that the majority of Microsoft’s business comes from enterprise customers, it’s a real surprise that so many of the Windows themes include sounds and audio effects. I know exactly what you’re talking about, though, because when I switched to a tropical beaches theme, suddenly I’d be hearing the sound of an ocean wave breaking on the shore every time I launched a program. Cute the first time, mildly amusing the tenth, but by the hundredth time? Not so much.

As with so much in Windows 8, the fast way to fix it is to use the search charm. Honestly, I don’t really even navigate through the Settings menu any more because Microsoft did such a great job of integrating system tasks into the search results. (still waiting for that to show up in Mac OS X, actually).

In this instance, just do a search for “theme” and see what shows up:

There’s what we want, as match #2: “Change the theme”. How easy is that?

Click on “Change the theme” and the Personalization window opens up, ready to modify:

Look along the bottom row where it shows “Sounds” as one of the choices.

Got it? Click on it to get to the Sound Theme personalization area:

One thing to note immediately is that here’s where you can disable the Windows Startup sound if you’d like to stop that incessant chime every time you boot!

You can also fine tune what has a sound associated with it on a per-event basis. Maybe you like the race car sounds when you start up the system and just want to disable the window opening sound? Scroll down to find the appropriate program event and click on the little speaker icon to its left.

Or you can just mute the entire sound theme at once:

Yes, I choose “No Sounds” on mine because while I love the visual appearance of the seashore theme, I really don’t like any audio associated with actions on my computer. Nice and quiet works just fine for me.

A click on “Apply” to set the change and…

Ah heck, do you want to? In my case, I just tweak the screensavers after I pick a theme, so my response was “No”. You might make a different choice!

To confirm it worked, the main Personalization window should now display this along the bottom:

No Sounds. Is good.


The post How do I disable theme “sounds” in Windows 8? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Review: Tune Sweeper for Windows

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:34

Rip a few music CDs, download a few from the iTunes Store and maybe even get a dozen from friends via email or a flash drive and without realizing it, you have dozens or hundreds of CDs stored on your Windows PC. If you have the disk space, it’s easy, and on our office file server, our master music collection is in the multiple gigabytes, thousands upon thousands of tracks spanning a wide variety of musical genres.

The problem is, once things get messed up, it’s a lot of work to fix it, whether it’s mistitled tracks (I hate typos in track names personally), missing album cover art, or even entries for tracks or CDs that somehow aren’t on the drive any more, or have moved for some mysterious reason. Fixing that for a half-dozen CDs? No problem. Fixing it for a few thousand CDs? Fuggetaboutit!

Which is why Tune Sweeper is such a win. For the modest license price of $24.99 — and a free version that you can start with to see if your library has any issues before you purchase — it’ll clean things up way faster than you could ever do so manually.

Launch the app and it’s pretty self-explanatory:

I’m a bit paranoid about duplicate tracks because my library is so darn large I don’t always remember what’s been ripped or purchased before I go to add tracks again.

And indeed, the new Julian Lennon CD Everything Changes appears to have been imported twice:

A click on “Continue” and all the details are revealed:

What I particularly appreciate about this view is that it makes all the preference settings that it uses to decide which to keep very obvious, as it also does with the criteria being applied to identify duplicate tracks.

Don’t care about dupes? If you’re perpetually on shuffle play, it really can be invisible, with the only difference being that they’re 2x as likely to play as a track that isn’t duplicated. With 70 tracks that’d be noticeable. With 7000 tracks, however, that’s lost in the noise.

If you do want a pristine collection, however, choose which dupe or dupes to remove, chose “Ignore group” if you want to keep some of the other duplicates, and click the “Remove Duplicates” button on the top right and you’ll need to decide what to do with the dupes:

Ready to proceed? Click “Yes, Remove Duplicates”…

Easy enough. Hopefully you don’t have too many duplicates, of course, but even though they aren’t a big deal from the shuffle play perspective, they do waste disk space since you already have a copy of that particular track.

Another useful feature for us completists in iTunes is track artwork. Sometimes, for reasons I can’t fathom, iTunes associates artwork with some tracks of a CD but not others. Tune Sweeper can fix things up, or confirm that you’re good and everything’s properly configured:

You can also do this particular function in iTunes itself, by the way. Indeed, some of the features in Tune Sweeper overlap features Apple’s already built into iTunes itself. Others, like de-duplicate processing, identifying tracks that are listed in the iTunes library but don’t exist on the drive and finding music tracks on the hard drive that aren’t yet in iTunes are unique to Tune Sweeper.

Next up, let’s see if there’s any missing information on the track files in my relatively modest iTunes library on my PC laptop:

Ah heck, that’s a lot of missing information! You can see I’m busy fixing it in this screen capture, which is why the bottom says “Downloading missing track details…”

Unfortunately it doesn’t indicate what is missing, so it could be something like the release year of the CD, something that I actually don’t care that much about. Still, completeness is worthy for its own sake, right?

More seriously, here’s the kind of problem the program’s fixing:

Unknown Artist? AAhhhhhhh!

Tune Sweeper also has a neat stats and analysis view that gives you some insight into your music collection. For this one, I’m going to use one of the Tune Sweeper screen shots since it’s more interesting than my own PC iTunes library (because I mostly listen to iTunes on my Mac systems):

I think that’s pretty darn cool stuff, though quite honestly I don’t even know half the most played artists!

In summary, Tune Sweeper is the kind of utility you’ll run once every few months when you think of it. It’s not a show-stopper fixing critical problems on your system, but if you do have a decent size music collection in iTunes on your PC (and frankly iTunes for Windows is way better than Windows Media Player) odds are good that things have gotten messed up as its grown.

Tune Sweeper is a smart investment if you want to fix those problems, if you want your library pristine, all properly configured, with all the proper track titles, copyright information, album covers and with the minimum disk space taken up by removing dupes and links to non-existent music files. And if you’re a bit OCD about it, well, this is a fabulous addition to your PC’s library.

Tune Sweeper from Wide Angle Software. $24.99 for Windows (there’s a Mac version too, btw)

Disclaimer: Wide Angle Software supplied us with a full program license and paid an additional fee associated with this review of their program. But seriously, I’ve been doing reviews for so long, their payment doesn’t affect my opinion one iota.

The post Review: Tune Sweeper for Windows appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Little Box Challenge opens for submissions

GoogleBlog - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:44
These days, if you’re an engineer, inventor or just a tinkerer with a garage, you don’t have to look far for a juicy opportunity: there are cash prize challenges dedicated to landing on the moon, building a self-driving car, cleaning the oceans, or inventing an extra-clever robot. Today, together with the IEEE, we’re adding one more: shrinking a big box into a little box.


Of course, there’s more to it than that. Especially when the big box is a power inverter, a picnic cooler-sized device used to convert the energy that comes from solar, electric vehicles & wind (DC power) into something you can use in your home (AC power). We want to shrink it down to the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th of its current size. Put a little more technically, we’re looking for someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. Do it best and we’ll give you a million bucks.
There will be obstacles to overcome (like the conventional wisdom of engineering). But whoever gets it done will help change the future of electricity. A smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world. Or allow you to keep the lights on during a blackout via your electric car’s battery. Or enable advances we haven’t even thought of yet.

Either way, we think it’s time to shine a light on the humble inverter, and the potential that lies in making it much, much smaller. Enter at—we want to know how small you can go.

Posted by Eric Raymond, Google Green Team
Categories: Technology

What If DJ Controllers Had Built In Screens? - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 18:29

This is a cool design challenge that showed up on DJ Tech Tools' blog to mock up DJ controllers. DJ gear vendor Numark is reported to be releasing a controller with a screen. That's kind of interesting, because it could potentially let digital DJs that use them close their computer screen and focus on performing.

While there are CDJs that already have color LCDs to preview deck track information, midi controllers are largely comprised of faders, buttons, knobs, toggle switches, jog wheels, and touch sensitive strips. At most they provide color LED feedback behind translucent silicon buttons, and as far I can tell from what I've read they haven't had display screens yet. Perhaps overall cost for the hardware is coming down, making it possible to deliver screens into more products. Thanks, Moore's Law.

DJ Tech Tools put up some Photoshop assets for its users to imagine what the other existing DJ controllers would look like if they had screens. It's kind of fun watching the DJ community come up with ideas. I see a some concepts that feel over-loaded. Hardware is interesting because more buttons/knobs for dedicated access to functions can be better, but there comes a point where I imagine ease of access to essential functions can be lost when too many secondary ones are added. There's a sweet spot between the minimalist DJ setup and the advanced/expert user that I imagine makes for some difficult product discussions at these companies.

Check it out.

Categories: Technology

Experimenting with the IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 17:56

I got an IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard System ($149 retail price) to demo and did a first little experiment. The product consists of a video sensor and interactive pen. You have to have a projector as well. Here's a super rough demo I made for my team at Balsamiq to show how it would work using Balsamiq Mockups.

IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard from konigi on Vimeo.

While the demo is pretty rough given the 15 minutes I gave myself to set up and record with my phone, it's pretty interesting to consider the possibilities for whiteboarding with wireframing software, if you're so inclined. I used a regular painted wall, but I'm going to give it a try on a real whiteboard.

Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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