What’s the bell icon on my Gmail window?

AskDaveTaylor - 1 hour 43 min ago

I take it by your question that you aren’t involved with Google Plus at this point, because it’s a shortcut to bring up your Google Plus notification / status window and it’s incredibly useful. If you’re on Google Plus, that is. If you aren’t using the Google answer to Facebook’s overlord status in the social media world, then it’s just a little bell that sits there and doesn’t ever ring.

If you’re a Facebook user, however, you’ll be envious by the time you finish reading this post, because Google has smartly integrated Google Plus into every other Google property. In fact, it’s all neatly stitched together so if someone leaves a comment on one of my YouTube videos, for example, I’ll see it in this status window too, which is about 100x more useful than me having to go to YouTube to find out what’s going on.

But let’s start at the beginning. Here’s what I bet you’re seeing:

See that bell? Yeah, nothing’s happening, so it’s just, well, a bell. Not very interesting at all.

But since I have lots going on with Google Plus [tip: follow me on Google Plus, you can see what I’m doing there!] I more often see it as a number that denotes how many notifications I have pending:

Before we check it out, another quick tip: the little 3×3 grid is darn helpful too to help move around the various Google properties:

It’s worth checking out “My Account” if nothing else because you can double check that your security and privacy settings are as you want. But that’s the subject of another post!

For now, let’s get back on topic. When I click on the number in the circle I get that darn useful notification window pop-up above whatever I’m doing:

Now you can see how it’s useful. But wait, it’s a fully functional window too, not just a notifications window as you find in Facebook. So if I click on the third entry, the note from Christian, here’s what happens:

Interesting, and you can see more details about the post I made originally at 9:40am, but it’s when you scroll down within the notification window that you realize how powerful this is:

Now you can see, it’s Christian’s entire comment, and even an input box where I can respond with my own comment. If I hover the cursor over the timestamp an otherwise hidden “+1” button shows up too, the Google Plus equivalent to the Facebook “like”. All here within this pop-up window, with whatever I’m doing on Gmail (or any other Google property, as it turns out) still just sitting there, ready to go when I’m ready to return to it.

Finally, when I’m fully caught up, clicking on the restored bell icon reveals the good news:

Note even here it’s useful: you can click on “Previously read” and go back to review all your other engagements and interactions on Google Plus. Again, all within this pop-up window.

It’s one reason I really like Google Plus. I really appreciate the ability to stay focused on what I’m doing in Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, whatever, and swoop in quickly to see what’s going on with my Google Plus (and YouTube) account, then jump right back. Super easy.

Hope that helps explain things. See ya on Google Plus!

The post What’s the bell icon on my Gmail window? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I mute my Ubuntu Linux system?

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 12:53

Another Linux fan, and you’re running Ubuntu Linux? Well played! It’s the version of Linux I run too, though I might be a bit more platform agnostic than most people with my Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and BSD Unix systems thrown into the mix. Still, the Ubuntu development team have done a lot to answer the concerns people have about whether Linux is as user friendly as the more common Mac and Windows systems.

Indeed it’s a testament to their success that you’re happy running Ubuntu and still aren’t sure about how to dig deep into the system and hack it to meet your needs and expectations. Yes, Linux is for more than just the nerdiest of users.

Having said that, its emulating both the Mac OS X and Windows environment so I’m surprised you didn’t figure it out already: It’s just a System Setting. Let’s have a look…

Here’s a typical Ubuntu Linux home screen with the strip of app icons along the left edge and two windows in view, the Ubuntu Software Center atop the file browser.

More importantly, check the tiny gear icon on the very top right of the screen. In fact, click on it…

You can see a number of interesting options from this system menu, but what you want to select is System Settings, as highlighted.

Once you do, you’ll see a Systems Settings for Ubuntu window that looks a whole heck of a lot like a Mac or Windows settings window, yes?

Click on “Sound” on the third row (I have no idea what the icon’s supposed to be, btw. If you know, please leave a comment!) and you’ll be able to see how to adjust your sound settings as desired:

I have to say that someone who has seen the movie Spinal Tap was involved in this window design. How else can you have “louder than 100%”?

Click on Mute, as shown:

Or, of course, slide the volume down so it doesn’t vanish completely.

Either way, that’s how you manage sound in your Ubuntu Linux laptop!

The post How do I mute my Ubuntu Linux system? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

From antiques to pizza, see what went into making this year’s masterpieces for Doodle 4 Google

GoogleBlog - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 09:00
Last October, we kicked off our annual Doodle 4 Google art competition, asking students to create a doodle to tell the world “What makes me…me.” This time around, we added a little twist: for the first time in eight years of Doodle 4 Google, there were no restrictions on the medium or materials kids could use to create a doodle. Kids took us up on the challenge. A quarter of all finalists used some non-traditional media—from clay and wood to origami, photographs and sheets of music—in their submission.

Today, Googlers are hosting surprise assemblies at schools from Waterville, Maine to Waipahu, Hawaii to celebrate the winners of each state and thank the teachers and parents who have encouraged them along the way. And for the first time ever, we’re announcing winners for Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico. See all 53 State and Territory Winners on our website.

Now, our finalists need your votes for a shot at having their doodle make it onto the Google homepage. Starting today through Feb 22, head to the Doodle 4 Google site to vote for your favorite artwork for each grade group. On March 21, we’ll announce the winner and four runners-up—and you’ll see the winning doodle on

Check out this year’s talented set of finalists and vote for your favorite!

Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodler and non-traditional media enthusiast" Ryan Germick Doodler AUTHOR TEAM
Categories: Technology

Video Review: Blue Microphone Lola Headphones

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 14:49

We’ve been fans of the Blue Microphone line of USB microphones forever. They just have a really great line of products that are the mainstay of thousands of podcasters, voiceover performers, audiobook readers and other voice talent. In fact, it was a Blue Mic “Yeti” microphone that we used when Joel Comm and I recorded the audio edition of our popular book Twitter Power 3.0 for Wiley. The company definitely gets microphones!

But does Blue Microphone understand headphones? First the company released the Mo-Fi, headphones with an unusual articulated design and a built-in amplifier to really rock the listener and add immediacy to the listening experience, and now the latest product from the company is the “Lola” headphone, essentially identical to the Mo-Fi but without the built-in amplifier. No worries, though, turns out that most audio sources can push out plenty of oomph for them to sound good, as I found when I gave them a spin. Except for one little issue with the mechanics of the headphones, as I explain:

You can learn more about Blue Microphone by visiting their Web site, and you can check out the Yeti Pro microphone on their Web site, as well as the Mo-Fi and, of course, the Lola headphones in white (as reviewed) and black.

The post Video Review: Blue Microphone Lola Headphones appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Fastest and Easiest Windows Anti-Virus Scanner?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 10:27

Great to know that you’re keeping an eye on your Mom’s computer system, a whole lot of people don’t have the benefit of someone else making sure things run smoothly! Since she’s on Windows 10 — probably Windows 10.1 — there’s even better news because as of Windows 8.0, Microsoft includes an anti-virus system with its operating system. If you ask me, that should have been included at least a decade earlier, but that’s another story.

What she has on her PC system is Microsoft Windows Defender, and it’s easy to keep it updated and work with it as an antivirus scanner both. In fact, since you’re keeping her Win10 system updated, you’re also simultaneously keeping Windows Defender updated too, both the app and its virus and spyware definitions. Neat, eh?

As with everything in Windows 8 or Windows 10, the easiest way to launch Windows Defender is to simply type in the name of the program into the Cortana search box. It shows up and you’re running the program:

Since the Windows updates are keeping Windows Defender updated too, it’s quite likely your Mom’s system will look exactly the same, with all virus and spyware definitions marked as up to date. In case it’s not, however, click on the “Update” tab to double-check:

If Windows Defender is out of date, a simple click on “Update” will fix everything.

Go back to “Home” once it’s updated and click on the big “Scan Now” button. Easy enough!

Now the PC will have all its most risky files quickly scanned by Defender…

It took about 3 minutes on my Windows 10 system to run a complete quick scan, a scan of over 127,000 items:

That’s all there is to it. Microsoft Windows Defender for the win. And I hope your Mom is grateful for your help!

The post Fastest and Easiest Windows Anti-Virus Scanner? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Video Review: Klipsch R6 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 14:09

Wireless headphones are easy to understand but when you get to wireless earbuds, turns out that there’s still a bunch of electronics required to get it to work. The question then becomes: where do the electronics go? Some companies have a little box hooked up to the earbuds, some have a collar with the earbuds slinking up from that, and there’s at least one company trying to shrink it all down so that it’s literally just tiny earbuds with built-in electronics, no wires at all.

Klipsch has taken a smart middle ground with the R6 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds, slipping the electronics behind each earpiece so that it’s more akin to a couple of hearing aides. The benefit? It’s super comfortable and easy to forget that they’re there at all. And it’s a Klipsch product, so the sound is very good, as I explain in my video review of the R6:

You can learn more about the R6 Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones on the Klipsch site.

The post Video Review: Klipsch R6 Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Review: Noteburner iTunes DRM Remover

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:29

Digital Rights Management is a way for Apple, and, by extension, the music label and musician to ensure that if you buy a copy of their work digitally that you won’t then share it with 500 of your best Facebook or Dropbox friends. If you did, well, then the musician would need a day job because the revenue from a single purchase isn’t going to pay for studio time or new gear, not to mention those lavish mansions in Brentwood and the Lamborghini with which to motor down Highway 1 to those swanky Malibu parties!

So this reader asks a tricky question, because there are indeed some slick ways to remove DRM from your protected iTunes music — and I’ll step you through NoteBurner iTunes DRM Audio Converter for Mac momentarily — but it’s important to highlight that it’s for your personal use only. In fact, it’s not only likely illegal for you to break the DRM and share music with your friends, it also really stinks for the artist for just the reason I mention: this is their livelihood and if you like the band or musician, why would you want to deprive them of the chance to make a buck or two?

With that in mind, let’s have a look at just how to remove the DRM and convert your M4A audio files into regular MP3 files so you can then listen to your purchased music on your Android device. And by my way of thinking, if digital rights truly worked properly it’d be “buy once, listen everywhere” anyway, and someday that’s exactly how it’ll work.

To start, download a copy of iTunes DRM Audio Converter from the site: there’s a demo version you can get to try it out.

Before we go further, though, a quick demonstration of the problem. Here’s my Purchased playlist in iTunes:

Right click on a purchased track and choose “Show in Finder” from the resultant menu and you can see the issue:

The files purchased, in this case from the Spectre motion picture soundtrack, are all “m4a” format. Not useful for your Android device!

To convert them and strip away the DRM, launch the copy of iTunes DRM Audio Converter that you downloaded already:

As the image suggests, you’ll click to add audio files for the program to convert. Do so and it’ll give you your familiar iTunes organization in its own window.

I’m going to choose “Purchased” again, and find the track Vauxhall Bridge, a particular favorite of mine:

You can select dozens or hundreds of files to convert, but I’ll stick with this individual file as a demo.

A click on “OK” and you’ll get the conversion queue window with your track or tracks listed:

Here’s a key step: before you click on the “Convert” button, click on the tiny gear icon on the top right to ensure that the conversion is going to produce exactly the files you desire.

By default, the program matches the audio track selected so it’s not necessarily what you’ll need for the Android device, as shown:

I don’t want to convert it to AAC, I’d rather just have a (lossy) MP3 audio file instead since that’s a much more common music file standard, and since I don’t much care about the file staying small, I’m going to bump it up to the highest possible quality.

Those settings now look like this:

Now I’m ready to convert the audio file!

Back to the previous window and a click on the green “Convert” button and…

This process goes pretty fast at 20x, but if you find your results aren’t as good as you’d like, go back and choose “Convert Speed” to be slower and try again.

Once it’s done, the program automatically opens up the destination folder and the converted audio file is ready to copy over to your Android device / listen to as an unprotected, non-DRM MP3 audio file:

That’s all there is to the process with NoteBurner DRM Audio Converter. It’s quite easy and in my testing it does indeed create clean MP3 files that have the digital rights management removed, so they’re ready to go into Windows Media Center or other MP3 players — even on a flash drive you can plug into your car, if it supports that. Buy once, play everywhere.

Learn more about NoteBurner iTunes DRM Audio Converter: $39.95 for a full app license. Check out their YouTube video for more usage options too, and note that there’s also a Windows version of the program you can learn about on their site too.

Disclosure: NoteBurner paid a small fee and sent a license for the purposes of this review. My opinions, however, are my own.

The post Review: Noteburner iTunes DRM Remover appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Video Review: Master & Dynamic MH40 Headphones

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 14:02

As a tech reviewer, I get a lot of different speakers, earbuds and headphones to try out, and it’s fascinating to learn just how much difference there is between different brands and styles of audio gear, often independent of the price tag. That’s why we were all most interested in the new Master & Dynamic audiophile headphones when they arrived, the MH40. And boy are they nice!

You can’t actually hear them, of course, but here’s my video review for your edification nonetheless:

Now, if you want to learn more about these top quality headphones, please check out the Master & Dynamic Web site, and specifically the MH40 headphones.

And me? I’m going back to enjoying some music…

The post Video Review: Master & Dynamic MH40 Headphones appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I live stream on Facebook?

AskDaveTaylor - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:01

I’m going to have to start this one out with disclaimers: From what Facebook has shared, this is currently only a feature available on the Facebook for iOS application, and even then, apparently it’s not fully rolled out to all users anyway, so it’s possible that you’ll try to follow along what I demonstrate and find that you simply don’t have that button enabled yet.

With that said, the other wrinkle with going live compared to tools like Periscope and Blab is that there’s not yet a way to let people know that you’re planning on turning on the camera in an hour, a day, a week, so you can’t build up interest other than with the people who bump into your post while you’re actually live. Of course, you can post other Facebook status updates to convey that, but the competing live services have nice schedules and calendars…

It’s also curious how Facebook has hidden the go live button, but let me show you what I mean!

Here we are poised to enter a new status update on Facebook in the iOS / iPhone app:

Lots of options, but no “Go Live”, weirdly. Okay, though, just tap in the entry area to proceed.

Now look closely at all the buttons along the bottom of the entry field:

You’ve seen most of these buttons for years on Facebook: add photo, tag person, add emoticon and tag a location. But that last one? The one that looks like Buddha sitting and being enlightened? That’s the new live video option.

Tap on it to see!

You, of course, want to allow this permission, along with a second prompt for access to your microphone: Live video isn’t much fun without a camera or audio input device!

Once you’ve granted permission as needed, you’ll finally be able to see the full screen prompt:

Here you can see that I’m standing in front of a brick wall. I figure if I’m going live, might as well make it a bit interesting.

Tap on “Continue” to proceed…

A good name helps people decide whether to tune in or not and sticks with it afterwards (Facebook saves old live videos in your stream forever, as far as I can tell). Enter a good name, then frame your shot as necessary and tap on “Go Live“!

And you’re live!

After a few seconds, you’ll see a box show up that would display any comments people might have as you proceed:

When you’re done, say goodbye as appropriate and tap on “Finish“.

Done. Now Facebook will wrap up your video for anyone who was watching and you’ll have a chance to save the recorded stream.

Note particularly that you can also save a local copy on your iOS device in your Camera Roll too:

And that’s it. Now the recorded video is also on your timeline for people to watch – and comment on – any time they’d like:

Quite slick and easy once you know where to find that darn “go live” button!

And if you’re not following me on Facebook, well, it’s time to remedy that! Find me on Facebook.


The post How do I live stream on Facebook? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Preserving and celebrating Black history, arts and culture

GoogleBlog - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 11:24
Growing up, my parents were daily reminders of the sacrifices made by earlier generations of Black Americans to give people like me the opportunities they were denied. To this day, their stories propel me to continue the fight for justice. I am far from alone—reflecting on a shared history inspires millions around the world to work toward equality. But without some record, those stories and the passion they ignite could get lost.

Artworks, artifacts and archives have the power not only to give a story life, but to encourage action and incite change. That’s why the Google Cultural Institute is excited to add records from institutions like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Studio Museum and Amistad Research Center and many more—bringing together important archives from Black history for anyone to access not only during Black History Month, but throughout the year.

From the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra to the historical records of Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this collection includes 26 new institutions (50 overall) contributing 5,000+ items and more than 80 curated exhibits. It includes new Street View imagery and three Google Expeditions, including an exploration of the resurgence of Jazz in New Orleans with Irvin Mayfield and Soledad O’Brien. You can see a 360 degree YouTube video made in conjunction with that Expedition here:

In The Baltimore Museum of Art’s exhibition “Questioning the Canon,” you can see Mickalene Thomas’s Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires and compare it side-by-side with the Manet original to see the ways Thomas has subverted the subject-matter of this canonical white European work.
You can trace along the paths of history by reading Frederick Douglass’ letter to his former master, and read the original manuscripts of Dr. King’s ”I Have a Dream” and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speeches. Absorb Dr. King’s personal letter to wife Coretta Scott King at the beginning of his four-month prison term for non-violent protest, then cut to photographs documenting his momentous first handshake at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Collecting these works into one place provides unprecedented access to a vital part of history that is too often forgotten. By comparing works of art and texts of speeches to find commonalities and distinctions, we can also build on the past to inspire ourselves and others. And while today is the first day of Black History Month, the work of remembering our history is necessary year round—which is why these records will be there on the Cultural Institute for generations to come.

Posted by Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Head of Black Community Engagement Valeisha Butterfield Jones Head of Black Community Engagement AUTHOR TEAM
Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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