Sunday, September 18, 2016

How to Manage Spam in Gmail

Google’s Gmail web-based email service, which is free to use, is one of most widely used and popular email services today. Apart from providing 15 GB of free storage space, it has a robust built-in spam-filtering system.

It is a community-based spam filtering system in which emails marked as spam, help other Gmail users, in terms of protecting them from future spam messages from the same email address.

When you first start using Gmail, it may take a little while until Gmail becomes more intuitive in terms of filtering spam messages.

Therefore, it’s important to take the time to mark messages as spam, create filters, identify email that was mistakenly marked as spam, and so on. In the video tutorial below, you will learn How to Manage Spam in Gmail, as well as how to use the smart spam filters.

All email messages that are marked as SPAM are stored in a “Spam” folder. It’s a good idea to check this “Spam” folder regularly because sometimes email messages that are not spam may end up in the folder. You can then use the option to mark it as “not spam”. Gmail automatically deletes the email messages in the “Spam” folder after 30 days.

In the above video tutorial you will learn:

  • How to block a sender?
  • How to report spam email?
  • How to create spam filters?
  • How to mark email as spam?
  • How to mark an email “not spam”?
  • How to edit filters and blocked senders list?

The Gmail spam filters are also a very effective way to deal with spam. For example, you can create a Gmail spam filter to delete email messages from a specific email address as soon as it makes its way to your inbox. Similarly, you can also use the Spam filters to mark certain email addresses as “not spam”. In essence, you are marking those email addresses as “safe senders”.

One of the other good security features of Gmail is that it automatically scans attachments in all incoming and outgoing email messages for viruses. Also, as a security measure, Gmail doesn’t permit emailing executable (“.exe”) files as attachments.

If you don’t have a Gmail email address, you can get one free here:

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Also, if you have any of your own tips on how to combat spam, feel free to share them.

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission | Spam images from Public Domain via Pixabay | Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries | Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Say “Hello” or “Goodbye” to the New Google+

In November 2015, Google announced that changes were coming to the Google+ social network. They made a new Web version available for users with an option to switch back to the Classic version

Well, starting in September (I believe September 12, 2016), the Classic version will be put to rest and all users will be forced to the new Web Google+.

Since the new Web version came out, I’ve tried it, on and off several times. However, I mostly stuck with the Classic version for many reasons. 

For one, I prefer the smaller sized, two-column layout. Also, I found that when sharing posts, it was easier, on the Classic version, to add them to Collections. Most of my posts that include an embedded YouTube video, somehow have the thumbnail all skewed up. 

Google Hangouts will also be gone, being replaced with YouTube Live, but not via the Google+ platform. And finally, the new Web Google+ no longer has Events. It has been removed and we most probably won’t see it back. This has left  many Google+ users frustrated and I can understand why.

Well, it’s not all bad, if you can handle what’s left of new Google+ social network. You will now be able to post Photo Comments as well as include a link when responding to comments. There is a new Notifications Center which will be a full-screen notifications page which I believe will be further enhanced. 

If you have a wider screen, you will be able to display a 3-column layout. If not, you will see a 2-column layout which can be customized to a one-column layout, if you wish. Also, Communities will have improved capabilities, giving moderators more control to deal with spam and the like. 

You can check this Google+ Post from Luke Wroblewski for a full list of the New Web Features. Below is a video that highlights some of these key changes and gives you a look at the Classic version compared to the new Web version of Google+:

Back in May 2015, Google launched Google Photos and in August 2015, photos from Google+ were migrated to Google Photos. Earlier, in July 2015 they announced that Google+ would be decoupling from YouTube. From the outside looking in, it seems like slowly, but surely Google has been tearing Google+ apart. 

Google is known to abandon apps as it has done in the past. I spare you the details, but I’m hoping that Google+ sticks around. I know Google’s social network hasn’t really gone mainstream (so to speak) compared to Facebook. 

However, I do like using Google+ and was actually disappointed when they decoupled from YouTube. I found that interface between Google+ and YouTube very practical and useful, especially with regards to managing social interactions via comments on my Tutorials YouTube Channel.

We can expect to see more changes in the coming months as feedback continues to pour in. Make sure to use the Feedback form, on your Google+ profile, to make your voice heard and hopefully Google will give heed to our feedback. 

It’s difficult to please everyone, but I’m hoping that Google+ remain a decent and use-able social media platform. So with everything said and done, will you say “Hello” or “Goodbye” to the new Google+ social network?

Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission | Google+ Logo Used Under Creative Commons CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License | Firefox Logo Used Under Creative Commons CC Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License | Microsoft, Windows, and the Windows logo are trademarks, or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries | Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

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.