Video Review: Xotic Gamer PC GE62

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 13:25

Ever wanted a wicked fast Windows laptop, one so fast that you needed to have special cooling systems included so it didn’t burst into flame? Okay, maybe the Xotic PC GE62 Apach Pro-004 gamer laptop isn’t quite that machine, but with its overclocked Intel Skylake i7, 32GB of RAM and illuminated keyboard, it’s a pretty darn sweet piece of hardware:

Learn more at or jump straight to the GE-62 Apache Pro-004 configurations.

The post Video Review: Xotic Gamer PC GE62 appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How to Capture a Region of the Screen on Mac OS X?

AskDaveTaylor - Sat, 11/28/2015 - 10:56

Here at AskDaveTaylor we take thousands of screen captures each month, whether it’s on mobile devices, televisions, Linux systems, Macs or Window systems, and after years of experience, I think the Mac has one of the easiest methods of taking screen captures out of all of them. The trick is to know your keystroke sequences!

You already know about Command-Shift-3, which is the standard way to save a screenshot, but as you have mentioned it’s a full screen, entire display capture, and it’s saved to the hard drive with the clunky name “Screen Shot date at time“. But let’s say you just want to copy the screen image to the clipboard so you can paste it directly into a document or presentation, without a file in the mix. You can do that with — ready for this? — Command-Shift-Control-3. Not easy to hold all those down, but it works quite a treat.

Both of those are still dealing with the entire screen. Let’s say you want to just capture a region or section of the screen instead, as, in fact, you did say!

For that task, you use Command-Shift-4 instead of 3.  Let me walk you through it…

To start, here’s a full screen capture using Command-Shift-3:

Easy enough. But all I really want is the article about Cards Against Humanity in the middle of the screen.

To do that, I simply press Command-Shift-4 and a crosshair shows up, letting me move to one corner of my region then click-drag the resultant grey selection box to the other corner, as I’ve done here:

Notice on the lower right it displays a running x,y dimensions for the box: In this case it’s 857 x 211.

Release the trackpad or mouse button and the region is saved as a file with that “Screen Shot date at time” format:

Now you can easily drag and drop that into an email message, Word document, even a Numbers spreadsheet or Keynote presentation. But let’s not stop there. Open it up with Preview

Let’s say that you wanted to crop it further to get rid of the image since it’s just the words that you want to share.

Easily done. In fact, you’re already in “select and crop mode” in Preview without realizing it. You can tell because if you move the cursor onto the image itself, you’ll notice that, just like the Command-Shift-4 x,y coordinates, Preview also does the same sort of thing:

You can see it on the top left on the image above. The “Today” is there just so it doesn’t seem to weirdly float in space.

Click and drag the rectangular selector, just like you did with the screen capture itself, until you have the region defined properly. You can fine tune it by moving edges and corners in and out as needed.

Again, the dimensions of the rectangle are shown, in this case 1069 x 329.

Now choose “Crop” from the “Tools” menu:

Boom! Your image has shrunk down and is just what you want:

A quick File -> Save and the image file is now just the specific section you want. Here’s the final file, as cropped:

That’s all there is to it. Command-Shift-3 for full screen, Command-Shift-4 for a selected region. Add Control and you’ll save directly to the clipboard instead of saving the images as files too. Done.

The post How to Capture a Region of the Screen on Mac OS X? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10?

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 11/27/2015 - 14:57

For reasons that I’ve never really understood, Windows is the only operating system that makes you decide if you want the “32-bit” version or the “64-bit” version, without ever really explaining which is which or even having a recommendation based on your hardware and CPU configuration. Fact is, I expect most people are lucky that they have the OS pre-installed when they buy a laptop or desktop PC so they don’t have to worry about this question.

So what is the difference? Let’s see what Microsoft says: “The terms 32-bit and 64-bit refer to the way a computer’s processor (also called a CPU), handles information. The 64-bit version of Windows handles large amounts of random access memory (RAM) more effectively than a 32-bit system.”

Okay, so why would you ever run 32-bit Windows 10? According to Microsoft again: “Most of the performance gain in computers running a 64-bit version of Windows comes from this added memory, combined with a powerful 64-bit processor able to use that extra memory. But for most people who just keep a few programs running at a time, 4 GB or more of memory offers no tangible benefit over a computer with 2 GB of memory and a 32-bit version of Windows.”

The long and short of it: If you are getting a new or newer PC you should be running the 64-bit version of Windows.

Finding out what version you’re running turns out to be really easy, particularly on Windows 10.

In the Cortana search box, type in “about your pc“:

Then press Enter or Return to launch the “About your PC” system settings.

It pops up and you’ll get your answer right there on the display window:

You can see that I’m running “Windows 10 Home” edition and that I have a very nice 32GB of RAM on this system along with, on the line labeled “System type” the following:

64-bit operating system, x64-based processor

So I’m running 64-bit Windows 10. How about you?

The post Running 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Disable “Advertising ID” on Microsoft Windows?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 11/26/2015 - 11:09

You’re correct that the “1511” version update to Windows 10 from Microsoft was pulled from production in mid-November because it was incorrectly resetting people’s privacy controls as part of the update, but it’s been fixed and supposedly there’s a newer update that not only doesn’t do this, but has a little tool to reset things if you did have them changed. As The Register describes it: “Basically, its operating system allowed apps to access people’s unique advertising ID numbers; the SmartScreen Filter that sends executables to Microsoft servers to analyze was enabled; software was allowed to run in the background; and settings and passwords would be backed up the cloud. If you previously disabled any of those, they would be reenabled by the MCT-derived upgrade over a previous Windows 10 install.”

But it’s more insidious than that, as Microsoft itself describes: “The advertising ID feature is turned on if the user chooses express settings when installing Windows.” Ah, okay, so by default your system is going to happily report your activities to third party advertisers so you can have a “better ad experience”. Privacy, anyone?

Turns out this was introduced in Windows 8.1, as Microsoft explains on its blog: “…in Windows 8.1 we include a unique identifier that can be used to improve the quality and relevance of advertisements displayed within Windows Store apps while providing other services such as analytics and app-discovery.”

Probably more than you wanted to know about Advertising ID, but that’s okay, it’s an Orwell idea: Knowledge is power!

To see what your settings are, go to the Windows 10 search box (aka “Cortana”) and type in privacy:

I’ll note that the first time I ran this search I didn’t get “Privacy settings”, so you might need to add “settings” to get the result desired. I suspect my Cortana was sleeping on the job the first time or something!

You’ll want to choose Privacy settings, which you can also get to by simply going to Settings and choosing “Privacy”. The “General” tab has all the options you’ll want to examine:

All the settings you want in one neat place. Handy, really.

The first one is Advertising ID and you can safely ignore the warning that “turning this off will reset your ID”. I don’t even know what it means.

The second option is SmartScreen Filter and that’s another one to seriously consider disabling. As The Register describes it, this is “sends executables to Microsoft servers to analyze”, though it’s described here as analyzing URLs you’re poised to visit to check for malware. Effectively this means Microsoft has a nice breadcrumb trail of every Web site you visit. Do you want them having that information?

The third is about predictive typing and, again, it’s sharing every word you type with Microsoft. Probably not what you want, whether they’re aggregating the data or not.

The fourth option is also a Web browser privacy issue, whether Web sites can query your system to find out what language pack or language packs you have installed in your Windows 10 system. Might not be a big deal – I have English and Spanish, personally – but it might be a privacy item you don’t want random third parties accessing without your knowledge.

Make the changes and you’re done. Or, while you’re at it, go to the last of the entries on the left, Background Apps and double check that you don’t have useless and uninteresting Windows apps that can run in the background and eat up your system resources:

Upon visiting this particular page myself as part of writing this, I opted to disable ESPN, Food & Drink and Amazon on this list. Why would they need to run in background and what would they be doing??

That’s it. And a great question. Privacy is something we’re all going to have to learn to be eternally vigilant about because companies like Microsoft are going to keep slipping up and trying to maximize revenue at the price of our own privacy and security.

The post Disable “Advertising ID” on Microsoft Windows? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Google gobble: Thanksgiving trends on Search

GoogleBlog - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 12:00
In just a few hours, people across the U.S. will be settling in for a day of food, family and football as they celebrate Thanksgiving. As the day of gluttony and gratitude comes closer, people have been turning to Google to plan the big meal, get cooking tips and more. Here’s a look at some of the top Turkey Day searches—for more, see Google Trends.

The reason for the season
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, people turn to Google to learn more about the origins of the holiday and its traditions, both new and old. Top questions include “Why did the pilgrims celebrate the first Thanksgiving?” and “What president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?”
The other reason for the season
Gratitude may be in the name, but food is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving. For weeks now people have been searching for recipes to wow their relatives this Thursday, from classics like cranberry relish and mashed potatoes to turkey alternatives like lasagna and beef stew. Here’s a look at the top recipes that trend every November:
Even amongst regional variations, family eccentricities or that ambitious new recipe you clipped from a food magazine, there’s one dish that takes the casserole on Thanksgiving Day. Stuffing is the top searched Thanksgiving recipe in 49 out of 50 states, with only North Carolina standing up proud for sweet potatoes. Our take: Why not have both?
How do I…?
Even for people whose usual meal prep consists of shuffling through take-out menus, Thanksgiving is a time to roll up your sleeves and get to work in the kitchen. That—and the fact that a 20-lb poultry dish is a little harder to put on the table than, say, the ol’ blue box of mac and cheese—means it’s also a time when many turn to Google to brush up on some cooking tips. In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, you’re asking all kinds of questions, from simple queries like “how to cook spaghetti squash“ and “how to boil eggs” to advanced topics like “what can I make ahead for thanksgiving?” and the very crucial, very daunting “How do you make turkey gravy?”

Let’s talk turkey
The top Thanksgiving recipe question, however, is focused on the main dish: “How to cook a turkey?” Related questions include “how much turkey do you cook per person?” (Answer: there’s math involved but the most important part is making enough for sandwiches for multiple days after), followed quickly by “How long to cook a turkey?” (answer: more math).

And though roasting is still the top trending technique method for cooking the big bird, enterprising (or efficiency-oriented) chefs across the U.S. are also searching for tips on how to smoke and deep-fry their turkeys. Proof that there’s more than one way to cook a turkey.
Whether you’ll be slicing into pumpkin or pecan pie, eating your turkey smoked, turduckened or made of tofu, serving up fresh cranberry sauce or popping open a can—we hope you have a happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Emily Wood, Managing Editor, who is now very hungry

Emily WoodManaging EditorGoogle BlogsQUOTE GOES HERE
Categories: Technology

What’s starting when I boot my Windows 10 system?

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 11/25/2015 - 10:59

You ask about one of the great questions in the Windows world, whether we’re talking about Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or even Windows 95: what programs and utilities are launched when you boot up a Windows PC? You’d think that’d be an easy question to answer, actually, but programs have a way of sneaking their way into the process and even Microsoft itself can’t quite decide where that information should be stored.

Windows 10 is no different, with the Microsoft help documents telling us to use the System Configuration Tool to ascertain startup programs, but the app itself telling you to go somewhere else in the system to figure out – and control – these potentially annoying programs.

Let’s have a look, shall we?

To start, launch System Configuration from your Win10 system with a quick search:

I’ve mentioned before how much I like the Windows 10 “Cortana” search, right? Use it. It’s very good.

Anyway, launch the System Configuration app check out the controls it gives you related to system startup and boot:

Useful and an easy way to diagnose startup problems without secret keystrokes or boot sequence tricks!

Click on the “Startup” tab, however, and…

Oh, okay, so we are actually now supposed to go to Task Manager for this.

On the bright side, at least there’s a link, right? Click on it.

From its interface, it appears that Task Manager is an even older program, maybe circa Windows Me?

In any case, here’s the information you want, a list of all programs and utilities that are being launched when your Windows 10 system starts up. Notice in particular the “startup impact” column and check those marked “High” first. On my system notice that some of the high impact programs are disabled (like Ask Toolbar Notifier).

What surprises me on this screen is that I have iCloud Photo Stream enabled. Did I set that up?

And trying to disable this is a great example of how things are still rather more DIY than they should be: Instead of disabling it here, I’ll go into the iCloud configuration program to do so, since that should be better, right? I do that by simply searching for “icloud” in Cortana and launch the program:

A click on the checkbox next to Photos and I’ve disabled iCloud Photo Stream. Which is then reflected in Task Manager, right? Wrong. I had to disable it there too. Ah well, at least now you know to pay attention to all these details, right?

And while we’re at it, check out the running tasks window in Task Manager, sorted by CPU usage. It’s a smart way to figure out what else might be slowing down your system:

Now it’s up to you. Run Task Manager to figure out what’s going on and good luck getting your system boot back to normal!

The post What’s starting when I boot my Windows 10 system? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Acknowledge The Force with Google and Star Wars

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 11/24/2015 - 10:07

If you’re willing to publicly announce whether you’d prefer to be part of the Light Side or the Dark Side (you know, the Light Side are the good guys, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, etc) and the Dark Side are the bad guys, including Darth Vader, Darth Maul, The Sith, Emperor Palpatine, etc) Google has a bunch of fun tweaks and mods to your favorite apps and Web sites to match your leanings.

Of course, you might want to think very carefully about choosing the Dark Side if you want to run for political office at any time in the future, teach at a preschool or apply to be a police officer, but if you’re okay with that, well, <cue ominous music> we’ve been waiting for you…

To start, go to, where you’ll find a simple widget that lets you pick a side:

I don’t know that I want to be Darth Dave, but the Dark Side seems more interesting, and, to paraphrase Billy Joel, those Dark Side kids have much more fun… So I’m over to the Dark Side.

But before I do, see those three horizontal lines on the top left? Turns out that’s a secret menu. Click on it and:

The FAQs are quite interesting, actually, including this useful information:

See that? Thousands of years of The Force and it still takes a while to change your Google experience.

Then again, it’s surprisingly easy to <cue ominous music again> join the dark side…

Oh, and they also kinda forgot to mention that for the full Google Chrome experience you’ll need to install an extension:

Once you do, it adds some fun easter eggs to Chrome, including the tiny tie-fighter showing up on the address bar:

And the new tabs you open? They’re really cool now:

I haven’t found a lot of other things yet, other than some fun tweaks to Google maps like this:

There are some golden oldie tricks like searching for “use the force, luke” in YouTube, but Google says that there are lots of different Google apps with Star Wars: The Force Awakens tricks if you keep your eyes open, including Android Wear, Chromecast, Inbox by Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Now, Google Translate and Waze.

Meanwhile, hmmm…. maybe I should turn to the light side.

Or should I?


The post Acknowledge The Force with Google and Star Wars appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Discover Jordan’s past and present in Google Maps

GoogleBlog - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 16:41
Starting today you can explore more than 30 historical sites throughout Jordan in Google Street View. To tell you more, read today’s guest blog post, by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. -Ed.

What a great day for Jordan and Jordanians! Thanks to Google Street View, we can now share the rich, proud and varied history of our country with anyone who has an Internet connection. With more than 30 historical sites available to explore virtually, people all over the world now have a window into our beautiful Kingdom in the heart of the Middle East.

Throughout the ages, ancient civilizations have left their footprints in Jordan. Reminders of the Silk Road which linked the regions of the world in commerce. Ancient cities, such as the Romans’ Jerash and the Nabateans’ Petra. Significant religious sites, like Mount Nebo and the River Jordan. And, to this day, we continue to discover such footprints.

With Google Street View, would-be visitors, or those just curious to learn more about our ancient lands, can explore Jordan’s unique historical heritage online. That’s one of the reasons I love this technology. Not only does it connect millions of people from all corners of the world, it provides a lens on the past. And when we understand more about each other’s stories and cultures and histories, we realize that we are more alike than we are different. That’s why we must preserve these treasures for future generations. They’re a doorway to our shared narrative.

To this day, after too many trips to count, Jordan’s ancient archeological site, the Rose-Red city of Petra, still fills me with awe. Concealed in majestic mountain gorges, visitors can wander through the entire city of Petra, imagining what life was like in the thriving trading center and capital of the Nabataean kingdom. Carved by hand into vibrant red, white and pink sandstone cliffs, it has, miraculously, survived earthquakes to withstand the test of time. Film buffs might recognize it from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Harrison Ford and Sean Connery joined forces in their quest to find the Holy Grail. Now, you can step back in time and take a narrated tour of this hidden gem, exploring the tombs, sites and amphitheater that span an area the size of lower Manhattan.
The Treasury in Petra is estimated to be more than 2,000 years old
Jerash is the second most visited site outside Petra. It’s considered one of the best preserved examples of Roman architecture outside Italy. With one click, you can stroll through its ruins, walk its streets, sing in its theaters and contemplate life in its baths and temples. Before you leave, remember to send a message through the city’s ancient whispering columns!
Jerash Roman South Theater can fit more than 3000 people
Colonnaded Street - Jerash, Jordan
Mount Nebo, located 10 km west of the Roman Byzantine town of Madaba, is one of the most revered holy sites in Jordan. While you’re close to Madaba, step into its historic church to view the Madaba Mosaic Map, the oldest known geographic floor mosaic in art history.

The Madaba Mosaic Map, created in 6th century AD, originally contained more than 2 million tesserae!
The Madaba Mosaic Map in church of Saint George - Madaba, Jordan
What could be more relaxing than a float in the world’s saltiest waters? A visit to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, is known to be a very therapeutic experience, thanks to its oxygen-rich water and mineral-mud.
Dead Sea Panorama - Dead Sea, Jordan
While you’re exploring, don’t be surprised if you find a medieval castle right in the middle of the desert. We’ve got many—from crusader castles like Al Karak, to Ajlun Castle built by Saladin, to Umayyad desert castles Qasr Amra and Qasr Al Kharana.
Qasr Kharana - Jordan
Jordan remains a haven of peace and moderation in the Middle East. So, please, come and visit us. Meet and talk with our warm and hospitable people. Taste our cuisine. Learn some Arabic. Relax in the therapeutic waters of the Dead Sea and the Ma'in Springs. Marvel at the rich colors of Wadi Rum, the spectacular desert backdrop to "The Martian." Walk in the footsteps of our forebears. There’s so much to see and experience.

There’s something for everyone in Jordan. And I couldn’t be happier that now, thanks to Google Maps, we can share our rich cultural heritage with the world. Visit to start your tour. As we say to all our visitors: ahlan wa sahlan. Hello and welcome.

Posted by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of JordanQUOTE GOES HERE
Categories: Technology

Check my tablet’s cellular usage with AT&T?

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 11/23/2015 - 10:23

There is indeed a simple way you can check your AT&T Wireless account from your tablet, though you might have already gotten used to either calling them – at 611 from your cellphone – to find out your balance or even just going to the wireless Web site to check things interactively from your computer. But it turns out that there’s an app on your tablet that gives you all that data just one or two taps away.

The only wrinkle is that you might have a hard time finding the app on your device…

To start, here’s a typical home screen on an Android tablet:

Hopefully you’ve long since figured this out, but tap on the grid of squares on the lower right to get to the list of all installed applications. It’ll look like this:

The app you can want is “AT&T AllAccess“, so tap on it to launch it:

There you go! That’s the information you seek, and it’s very neatly presented.

Notice to the right of the words “Data Monitor” it shows the number of days left in the data period. For me, it’s “1 day left”, which, given that I’ve only used 3% of my 5GB, suggests that there’s a lot of unused bandwidth!

Oh, and while you’re here, tap on “Data Alert is OFF” just below the circle to turn it on, then tap and drag your finger around the circle to set an alert:

Here I’ve set it to alert me when I get to 87% of my data quota. Easy enough.

Oh, and one more thing. Your tablet can also serve as a data hotspot, as you can see if you tap on the three vertical squares button on the top right:

So there you have it. AT&T AllAccess for the win.

The post Check my tablet’s cellular usage with AT&T? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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