Monday, April 25, 2016

Snipping Tool Grey Screen Solved

The Snipping Tool is a really useful screenshot capturing application that is available in the Windows operating system. I've used it very often to capture screenshots or portions of images.

You can also use this screenshot tool to annotate. So once you've taken a screenshot, you can save the final output in various file formats like PNG, JPEG, and GIF.

I've used the Snipping Tool both, in Windows 7 and Windows 10. The new Windows 10 version has a "delay" option.

Anyway, lest I digress, the main purpose of this blog post is to provide a solution to the grey or black screen, when using the Snipping Tool. I can't remember when and how, but at one point when using the Snipping Tool in Windows 7, I encountered a grey screen and it wouldn't allow me to take any screenshots. Basically, it disabled this tool for taking screenshot on my web browsers as well as on desktop applications.

One solution I found was to close open browsers and it would allow me to take screenshots, however, if I wanted to take screenshots within the browser I would continue getting the grey screen. Initially, I thought it was my firewall or Norton Security software that was causing this issue, but that wasn't the case.

Ultimately, after doing some troubleshooting, I narrowed it down to Trusteer Rapport, which is a security software that adds an additional layer of online security to your anti-virus / internet security software. I downloaded Trusteer Rapport via one of my financial institutions.

Anyway, after digging into Trusteer Rapport and making some changes to settings, I was able to get the Snipping Tool working again, both on broswers and my destop applications. You can check the video tutorial below for step-by-step instructions on How to Resolve the Snipping Tool Grey Screen Issue.

This solution may not work for everybody, but those who use Trusteer Rapport will most probably find it helpful. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below.

- Trusteer Rapport® is a registered trademark of Trusteer, an IBM Company.

- Snipping Tool is a screen capture utility available in Windows Vista and later versions.
- IBM® and the IBM logo are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) in the United States, and/or other countries.
- Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

Music by Riot | Song Title: Red Sea | Source: YouTube Audio Library (For Use on Monetized Videos)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Amazon Introduces Amazon Tap Voice-Controlled Bluetooth Speaker

Amazon Tap and Amazon Echo Dot now join the Amazon Echo family.

Amazon Tap is a new portable, wireless, voice-controlled, Bluetooth-enabled speaker with which you can listen to music from various online streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and of course Amazon Prime Music.

You can also stream music directly from your phone. Amazon Tap is equipped with dual stereo speakers powered by Dolby providing 360 degree omni-directional sound.

Apart from being able to listen to music, it uses the Alexa Voice Service and can also provide you news updates, check the weather, order pizza, request Uber for a ride, and much more.

Amazon Tap is expected to give you up to 9 hours of battery life on a single charge. And when the battery is running low, you will be reminded in advance. Talking about charging, included with your purchase is a charging cradle, as well as a USB cable and adapter.

Optionally, you can purchase the Amazon Tap Sling which acts as a protective case as well as a sling to carry it along. The protective sling comes in six different colours: white, black, blue, green, pink, and orange. You can check the Amazon Tap in action in the video below:

Amazon Tap is currently only available in the United States, but I believe Amazon hopes to make it available internationally. Amazon Tap won’t be available just yet. It is expected to be released on March 31, 2016, at $129.99, but you can pre-order it at Amazon.

If you don’t yet have Amazon Prime Music, you can get it for a 30-day free trial. You can stream Prime Music on your phone, tablet, computer, Fire TV, as well as Amazon Echo.

On the other hand, the new Amazon Echo Dot is a smaller device only available to Amazon Prime members. It also uses Alexa Voice Service to provide you music listening pleasure over a range of online music streaming services.

Unlike, Amazon Tap, Echo Dot is equipped with far-field voice recognition technology and has seven microphones built into the device. Therefore, you can do a lot more with Echo like checking the news and weather, your schedule, setting your alarm, as well as controlling smart home devices like your thermostats, lights, and other connected devices. It’s priced at $89.99.

Monday, February 29, 2016

How to Use YouTube Custom Blurring Tool

YouTube introduced the Custom Blurring Tool in late February 2016. This is an extension of the blurring feature they had launched in 2012. This new feature provides the ability to blur people’s faces or blur sensitive information in your videos uploaded to YouTube.

I think it’s a great feature to have built-in, as part of the YouTube’s video Enhancements tools. This blur feature can be used once the video is uploaded to your channel.

The blur tool is a desktop version and works on static and moving objects. Of course, it’s a bit tricky and potentially time-consuming when working with moving subjects in your video.

When using the Custom Blurring tool, I noticed that it can be a little tricky when blurring moving objects, especially during the beginning of the video. The preview looks grainy and so it’s not always easy to tell if the final edited video will come out right. The video below is a test video I used to test out YouTube’s Custom Blurring Tool. As you can tell, at the beginning of the video, it didn’t completely cover one of the girl’s faces, but overall I think it’s did a pretty good job of blurring the faces in the entire video.

To use the Custom Blurring Tool, find the video in your Video Manager. Then click on the Edit button, and choose Enhancements. Next, in the Blurring Effects tab, you will find two blurring options: automatic, and custom. When you choose the Custom option, you will be able to draw a blur box around the area in the video that you want to blur.

This tool is designed to intuitively analyze what you’re trying to blur as the video plays. Depending on how movement there is, you will need to do some fine-tuning by adjusting the blur boxes as your scrub through the video. You will see the blur annotations in your video timeline. You can accordingly adjust the duration of the blur on the timeline itself. For static objects, you can use the Lock feature in the video timeline.

Once you’re done making the changes, you can save the video as a new video, or override the existing video and publish it on YouTube. In case you don’t want to publish the video life publicly, you can first upload the video as Unlisted and then make it public once you’re completed the changes and are happy with the result. It does take a little while for processing the changes.

For example, a short 19 second video (as shown above) took around 10 minutes to process. 10 minutes may not seem like a long time, but for a 19-second video, it is. But then again, it will depend on how many adjustments have been made. The Custom Blurring Tool is not perfect, but it’s very useful to have in your video editing arsenal.

You can check the video tutorial below on How to Use the YouTube Custom Blurring Tool:

Have you tried YouTube’s Custom Blurring Tool? Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Thanks for stopping by!

- Canoeing video footage of taken by Anthony Godinho at Port Credit, Ontario, Canada
- Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

- Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Used with permission from Microsoft.

Monday, February 8, 2016

YouZign 2.0 Review 2016

YouZign is a powerful online graphics tool that I've been personally using for a few months now. This web-based graphics design software makes it easy to create various types of marketing graphics.

In today's world, sharing information via social media has become increasingly popular and shows no signs of stopping. But with so much digital content shared over social media, it's important to make your content stand out from the crowd.

With YouZign you can design high quality and professional-looking graphics for a variety of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and others.

But that's not all you can do with YouZign. You can design web banners of different sizes, business cards, eBook covers, and infographics. You can even create effective ads for your business or clients, but there is still so much more.

I've used different types of graphics design software and tools in the market over the past few years and I like the simplistic user-interface that YouZign offers. More importantly, I like the commitment of the owner, Bertrand Do, who is constantly listening to users and making improvements to this online graphics design platform. Since its inception, we've seen YouZign evolve and improve tremendously.

You can check the short video below to take a quick look at what the platform looks like. In this YouZign Video Review, I highlight some of the key features you will find in this online graphics platform:

As you saw from the above YouZign Video Review, it's a pretty cool and useful tool to have in your social media creation arsenal.

Another aspect of YouZign that I particularly like is the flexibility to customize pretty much every element on the canvas. You will find contextual menus as you click various elements on the canvas to customize the look and feel of the graphic or image that you're creating.

If you are creative in nature, you can use the "New Template" to create your designs from scratch and build your masterpieces. You can use the hundreds of graphic design elements like graphics, icons, shapes, etc to build your design.

On the other hand, if you need to create a quick graphic design, you can use the hundreds of pre-made templates and customize them the way you want to.

With the integration of websites like Pixabay, Icon Finder, and Stocks Unlimited, you will have access to literally thousands of copyright-free images, graphics and icons directly from YouZign. You essentially choose which site you would like to look for images, and then use the Search Box to find them. Once you've found your image, you can immediately place it onto the canvas and start customizing it based on your needs.

I particularly like the built-in Photo Background Removal tool you will find in YouZign. With this feature, you can remove the background from any image and save it as an image by itself or apply another background. You can check this video tutorial below on how to remove a photo background using this tool:

Once you've successfully completed designing your graphic or image, you can save it into your Designs section within YouZign, or download a copy to your computer.

The one year anniversary of Youzign is on February 8, 2016. On this special occasion, the founder Bertrand is making YouZign available at a discounted price along with several improvements and enhancements to the platform.

This special offer is for a limited time, so if you like what you see, I suggest you pick up a copy as soon as possible. At some point, after this relaunch, the price will be on a monthly basis.

Hope you found this YouZign Review useful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask and I will do my best to respond to you.

AFFILIATE DISCLAIMER: If you use the links above to purchase the product. I may earn a commission as a JVZoo affiliate. This recommendation and review is based on my firsthand experience using this product myself.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 Launched Today - Is it Worth Upgrading?

Microsoft launched the much hyped Windows 10 operating system today, July 29, 2015. Microsoft is actually giving Windows 10 away for free. Yes, it's true and no it’s not the trial version, it’s the full version of the new operating system. Consumers who currently have Windows 7 or 8.1, are able to get Windows 10 as a free upgrade.

My favourite Windows operating system was and is Windows 7. I completely skipped Windows Vista (thankfully) and have been able to skip Windows 8 so far. From what I see, Windows 10 seems to be a crossover, incorporating the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8, into this new Windows 10 operating system.

I’m liking what I see so far, but am not ready to upgrade yet. For now, I’m sticking with Windows 7 until the dust settles. I’m in the market for a new laptop at which point, I think I will go for Windows 10.

So what’s new in Windows 10? Well, the video review below does a good job of covering many of the cool new features in Windows 10. However, let me share some of the key features that I really like in Microsoft’s brand new operating system.

START Button: Well, first of all, I must admit that I do like and am quite accustomed to the START button. Well, it’s back in Windows 10 and I’m sure many MS Windows users will be happy about that.

Platform Versatility: Windows 10 can be used across various platforms, that is, on computers, tablets, and smartphones. And it can also be integrated with Microsoft’s Xbox One console. The Xbox App allows users to play games without having an Xbox One console. If you do have an Xbox One, you can connect it to your Windows 10 PC and stream your gaming on your PC.

Continuum: Talking about the versatility of this new operating system, Continuum allows users to turn their computer into a tablet. Essentially, Continuum gives you the flexibility to work in desktop mode or touch-screen tablet mode while adjusting and optimizing the user-interface.

Cortana: is Windows’ new digital Personal Assistant with a sense of humor. Cortana will help users find things around their PC, give users reminders, help manage your calendar, send emails, and much more.

Snap Assist: I think I will like the Snap Assist feature because I constantly multi-task and have several applications open at the same time. With Snap Assist, you can drag a specific window to a section of the screen and Windows will automatically adjust the other open app windows.

Windows Edge: is Microsoft’s new browser that turns the web into your own canvas. Essentially, with Edge you can write notes and draw doodles with a variety of annotations on live web pages. You can then save the annotations as well as share them with others. You can write freehand, type, and even highlight with different colors.

MS Office Apps: Windows 10 comes with free MS Office apps like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, though these are stripped down versions app of MS Office. It also comes with a Screen Capture app that allows you to capture video to create tutorials or capture your gaming action.

Windows Hello: allows you to log into your computer using facial recognition or your fingerprint.

So that’s it in a nutshell – though there is still much more to this new operating system. Having said so, I’m not yet ready to give a 10 rating to the Windows 10 operating system. I guess time will tell if and how users embrace Windows 10. I’m really hoping that it is as good or better and Windows 7.

If you are currently on Windows 8, you probably will benefit from upgrading. But for users, like me, who are still using Windows 7, I think it may be better to wait until at least the initial launch.

If you want to Buy Microsoft Windows 10 Home, you will have to wait until August 5, 2015, but you can Pre-order Windows 10.

What will you do? Are you going to wait or go right ahead and upgrade to Windows 10? Feel free to share your thoughts and experience with Microsoft's new operating system!

Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

If you use the link above to purchase the product. I may earn a commission as a Amazon Associate. This recommendation and review is based on my firsthand experience using this product myself.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Google+ Breaks Up with YouTube

Well, not yet, but there are changes coming in terms of how Google is going to take the focus off Google+ and put it more on a user’s Google Account. Earlier today, according to an official blog post titled “Everything in its right place”, Google announced that they will be making a few changes in the coming months.

Google’s VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing, Bradley Horowitz said “People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

Essentially, they are decentralizing the Google+ Profile which currently acts as a user’s identity across Google services like Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Drive, Hangouts, etc. Their plan is to make users’ Google Account as their main identity for Google services. Also, currently, Google+ Profiles are searchable via Google Search, whereas, users’ Google Account won’t be.

One of the first changes that we will see is the decoupling of Google+ and YouTube. Based on the official blog post from the YouTube Team titled “Keeping the conversation going” and immediate change will be that comments made on YouTube videos will not appear on Google+ and vice-versa. As far as I know, my comments that I posted on YouTube videos never appeared on Google+ unless I checked the box to allow comments to appear on my Google+ timeline (see screenshot below).

Also, going forward, once the changes are implemented, users won’t need a Google+ profile to create a YouTube channel, upload videos and comment on YouTube videos. Bear in mind that these changes have not yet been implemented, therefore, don’t rush to delete your Google+ profile. In doing so, you will delete your YouTube channel, and you don’t want that – so hold your horses!

When changes like these are implemented one often thinks whether the death of Google+ is soon coming. It’s difficult to say because Google has done this before where they’ve launched products and then pulled them off the shelves. To that end, Mr. Horowitz says “We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.” So Google+ is here to stay as far as we know it.

I know many people don’t like Google+ and cringed when the Google+ profile was used as the one central identity for Google services. I may be in the minority when I say this, but personally, I like Google+ much better than Facebook and liked the fact that I had a choice to allow my comments to appear on Google+. It helped greatly because I have an active YouTube channel and could managed comments from within YouTube as well as from within Google+.

As far as I know it, now Google+ and YouTube are going to be separate which means duplicate work if I want to share it on Google+. On the brighter side, I do like that our Google Accounts will be our main identity for using Google services, instead of the Google+ profile.

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.
Broken Hearted Graphic Public Domain CC0 via

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Amazon All Set for Prime Day

Amazon, the largest online retailer in the US, is all set for Prime Day on July 15, 2015. The company has touted this one-day only sale, Prime Day, as “More deals than Black Friday.

Amazon is celebrating their 20th anniversary with Prime Day, their version of Black Friday in July, only better. Amazon Prime was first launched in 2005 and has since become popular among regular Amazon shoppers who’ve made the best of this membership.

So is Amazon Prime worth it? Well, I guess the answer to that will depend on how you intend to use it. Amazon Prime membership costs US$99 per year.

Below are some of the main benefits of being an Amazon Prime member:

  • Free two-day shipping;
  • Free online movie streaming;
  • Access to ad-free music;
  • Unlimited photo storage;
  • Exclusive deals.

Some zip codes are eligible for free same-day shipping as well. Also, with Prime membership up to four eligible household members (who live at the same address) can use the membership for shipping benefits at no extra cost.

Learn more about Amazon Prime and its members benefits and some restrictions. If you don’t have Amazon Prime membership, you can get a 30-day free trial and still access the exclusive discounts available on Prime Day on July 15, 2015.

Amazon released some examples of deals you can expect on Prime Day:

  • Kindle, $30 off
  • Fire HD 7, $60 off
  • Fire HD 7 Kids Edition, $60 off
  • 32-inch LED TV, $75
  • 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $115
  • Brand-name 32-inch Smart HDTV, under $200
  • Chromebook laptop, only $199
  • Over 50% off two Nikon COOLPIX cameras
  • 40 lightning deals on DVDs up to 75% off
  • And many more.

Affiliate Disclaimer: The links in this post contain affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.