02 March 2013

Google's Mobile Image Search Adds Infinite Scrolling

I'm not sure if this is an experiment or a feature that's currently rolled out. Google Image Search for mobile has a new interface that replaces pagination with infinite scrolling, just like the desktop interface. You can see a lot more images without having to swipe and it's much easier to find great search results.

Google also added an option to "scroll to top", but this is more useful if you use Android. iOS has a built-in feature that scrolls to the top of the page (or the current view) when you tap the status bar.

When you select an image result, you'll probably see a new interface that focuses on the image and makes it more obvious that you can swipe right/left to check to other results.

Unfortunately, just like the new desktop image search, the redesigned mobile interface replaces snippets with page titles and removes the file size (in bytes, not pixels).

Open YouTube Links in iPhone's Browser

If you install YouTube's app on an iPhone or iPad, all the YouTube links from Safari will open in the YouTube app. What if you want to open an YouTube video in Safari? Maybe you want to bookmark it or maybe you get a message like "YouTube video not available on mobile" and you need to switch to the desktop interface to watch it. Here's what you need to do:

1. long press the link (tap and hold)

2. select "copy"

3. open a new tab

4. paste the link

5. replace "www" with "m", so that "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=" becomes "http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=" and tap "go".

The explanation is that the links to the mobile YouTube site (m.youtube.com) aren't intercepted by the app.

Another option is to install a different browser like Chrome, which doesn't open the YouTube app when you click on a link to a YouTube video. You can also uninstall the official YouTube app and install a third-party app like McTube.

If you're using Android, this trick worked for me in both Chrome and the stock browser: long press the YouTube link and select "open in [new] incognito tab".

Google Trusted Testers: From Betas to Campaigns

Google has a site for "trusted testers", but you need to be invited by a Google employee to test new Google services and new features before they're publicly available. "The Trusted Tester Program gives trusted Google users, friends and family members of Google employees a chance to test and share feedback on Google products or features that have yet to be released," explains Google.

It's interesting to compare the answers from a FAQ leaked in 2006 with the answers from a similar FAQ, which is available in the source code of the Trusted Tester site. For example, Google replaced "betas" with "campaigns".

2006: "You can then log on to the Trusted Tester website with a Google Account in order to access and test out betas of new Google products as they become available."

2013: "After joining, testers may be invited to Trusted Tester campaigns as they become available."

Who can participate?

2006: "the friends and family members of Google employees"

2013: "trusted Google users, friends and family members of Google employees"

When will you know if there is a new Google campaign to test?

2006: "Whenever a new Google beta is ready for testing, you'll receive an email letting you know. Then you can just log on to the Trusted Tester website with your Google Account and you'll see a link to that beta."

2013: "Whenever a new Google campaign that matches your profile is ready for testing, and you have been selected as a tester, you'll receive an email inviting you to participate. To increase your chances of being added to new campaigns, make sure your profile is complete and up-to-date!"

Google now uses profiles to determine the best trusted testers. Google even suggests to "make sure your profile is up to date so we can match you with tests for new Google products and services". There's more: "We select testers based on various demographics. The more information you provide in your profile, the better we can match you with appropriate products and services. Adding your mobile devices makes you eligible to participate in mobile tests, as well!"

How long is each Google campaign available for testing?

2006: "Google betas are usually only available for testing for around two weeks. After the testing period ends, we'll remove the link to the beta on the Trusted Tester website."

2013: "The length of the testing period will vary depending on the campaign."

{ Thanks, Florian. }

How To Quit Google

Google has been under a lot of fire in the past year or two for their questionable policies regarding privacy. Personal privacy has always been a huge issue for people and the fight takes on a whole new appearance when dealing with the Internet’s openness. To some people, companies like Google have gone too far, leading them to shun the company altogether.

So what can you do when Google encompasses a ton of products and services all around the world and you want to escape their control? When complaints and protests don’t work, the best way to speak your mind is to quit using their products and services. But with a company as pervasive as Google, this can be extremely difficult.

I personally like many of Google’s offerings, but if you’re one who wants to quit, I’ll show you the main steps that you need to take to release yourself from their grip. Beware, though, that some people who have tried to quit Google have ended up loving the company all the more.

Log Out of All Google Services

The first step to not use any of Google’s services is to not use any of their services. The easiest way to do this is to log out of all of your Google accounts and never log back in again. Recently, Google has been consolidating a lot of their services under one account (Google Plus, Gmail, YouTube, etc.) so logging out of one tends to log you out of them all.

If you find yourself tempted to log back into these accounts, then you’ll want to take a more drastic measure: delete your Google accounts. Deletion is always a scary action because it’s so final, but if you’ve certainly made up your mind 100% that you want to quit Google, account deletion may be necessary to keep you on track.

How do you delete your Google account?

  • Log into your Google account.

  • Navigate to the Account Settings page.

  • Click on the “Close account and delete all services…” link.

My recommendation is that you do not delete your Google accounts if you feel any sort of hesitation at all. Google is pretty all-encompassing and you might feel a lot of regret if you ever decide to return to Google one day.

New Search Engine: DuckDuckGo

Now that you’ve freed yourself from Google’s grasp, you’re going to have to find alternate services to use. Since Google’s main service is Google Search, what can you use instead? Well, considering that most people will be leaving Google due to the privacy concerns, you’ll want to use a search engine that doesn’t impede on privacy.

When talking about privacy, the search engine that often comes to mind is DuckDuckGo. It’s not a very good name (certainly not as easy to say as Google) but it has some great policies in place: your searches are never tracked, your data is never stored, and DuckDuckGo never shares any information with any other party ever.

If DuckDuckGo isn’t enough for you, then you may want to try either WolframAlpha for (sheer search power) or Bing (for familiarity). WolframAlpha has a bit of a learning curve, though, so it’ll take some getting used to. Bing on the other hand… well, it’s Bing.

New Email Service: Hotmail or GMX

Gmail is arguably the second most popular Google service in the world. It was the first to pioneer free email storage limits in the gigabytes and it has made impressive strides in the world of web-based mail. However, it’s an unsettling thought knowing that the world’s most powerful information company has access to all of your email exchanges.

If you use Gmail and you want to quit Google, you’ll need to find an alternative. Luckily, both Hotmail and GMX will give Google a run for its money in the realm of free email.

A lot of you will instantly reject the Hotmail recommendation with a disgusted gag, but you really ought to check it out – especially if you haven’t used Hotmail in the last year or so. They’ve overhauled the design, making it extremely user-friendly, pleasant to the eye, and just a flat-out enjoyable experience.

As for GMX, it’s the “free email service you’ve been waiting for.” The web-based interface is rather good, they offer unlimited email storage, attachments can go up to 50 MB, and your privacy is guaranteed with encryption. If you’re still wary about it, just know that over 13 million people already use GMX so obviously they’re doing something right.

New Video Sharing Site: Vimeo

Though YouTube wasn’t originally a Google creation, they did buy the site back in 2006 and have made it into what it is today: the central hub for user-generated videos. Ask any of your friends if they know what YouTube is; I bet you’ll have an impossible time finding even one who doesn’t know!

So if you want to completely quit Google, you’re going to have to quit YouTube, too. Now that’s a daunting idea. Google Search and Gmail are personal services, but YouTube is a worldwide phenomenon. Quitting that is going to be extremely hard.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many video-sharing sites that are as good or popular as YouTube. The closest one, in my opinion, is Vimeo. Other contenders include Blip.TV (mostly focused on webisodes, web shows, and web series) and Veoh (which doesn’t have many restrictions at all).

New Maps and Directions: Bing or MapQuest

With the recent debacle involving Apple and their Maps app, a lot of people have reevaluated the usefulness of Google Maps. As it turns out, Google Maps is one of the best, if not the best, map services in existence today. If you want to quit Google, you’re going to have to give this up, too.

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two map services that can compete: Bing and MapQuest.

For as much slack that Bing receives, their map service is actually pretty good. The satellite images are arguably better than the images in Google Maps: more crisp and at a clearer angle. Their maps are prettier, too. The downside is that Bing’s “Search Nearby” is nowhere near as good as Google’s, but that’s no surprise.

MapQuest used to be really popular before the advent of mobile GPS apps and Google Maps. In recent years, though, they’ve completely revamped their interface into something more modern and fresher. It’s not as feature-rich as Google Maps, but it’s pleasant to use and holds a lot of promise.

New Web Browser: Firefox or Opera

How can we talk about leaving Google without abandoning their web browser? Chrome has become such a household name in the last five years and a lot of users will immediately install it after a fresh format of their computers. However, if you want to be consistent, then yes: you do need to replace Chrome if you want to forever quit Google.

My recommendation is Firefox, which you’ve probably heard of already. Even though I personally prefer Chrome over Firefox, it is a strong alternative. After all, you don’t become an internationally-recognized name without doing something right along the way. If you detest Firefox, then my next recommendation is beautiful and sleek Opera.

One additional note here: If you really want to quit Google, you also need to stop Google from tracking you through their Analytics program. Fortunately, Google provides browser extensions that prevent Analytics data from being collected (it’s called the Opt-out Browser Add-on). However, if you don’t trust Google to block themselves like that, you could always use something like Ghostery.


If you want to quit Google, then these are the main steps that you need to take. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? In the process of writing this article, I had to take a deep breath and process just how much of my daily life revolves around Google’s services. It was quite a shock, I’ll tell you that much.

I couldn’t imagine a world without Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, or Google Maps, but if this is the road that you’ve chosen, I wish you good luck. If you’re already on this road, then please share your experiences with us in the comments.

The post How To Quit Google appeared first on MakeUseOf.

YouTube's Harlem Shake Easter Egg

If you search YouTube for [do the Harlem Shake], the search results page will actually illustrate your query: the Harlem Shake song will start playing, YouTube's logo will start moving and the search results will "dance" chaotically.

It's an Easter Egg based on the Harlem Shake meme. "The Harlem Shake is an Internet meme in the form of a video of various groups of people performing a comedy sketch accompanied by a short excerpt from the song 'Harlem Shake'. As a meme, the video was replicated by many people, using the same concept, and this rapidly led to it becoming viral in early February 2013, with thousands of 'Harlem Shake' videos being made and uploaded to YouTube every day at the height of its popularity."

Gizmodo says that "YouTube puts the final meta nail in the Harlem Shake's coffin," but I think the Easter Egg will make the meme even more popular.

{ Thanks, Sterling. }

01 March 2013

Get Start Menu In Windows 8 Without Using Third Party Tools


A lot has been said and written about the new Start screen introduced with Windows 8. While a section of PC users are satisfied with the new Start screen, most users aren’t exactly happy with the Start menu replacement. Users who don’t like the Start screen have a number of free programs to get back [...]

Get Rid Of Facebook’s New Graph Search With This One Simple Trick

graph-search-300Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Facebook’s new Graph Search. We’ve written about it several times here on MakeUseOf, but just in case you’ve managed to miss it, I’ll briefly explain what it’s all about (feel free to skip this if you already know).

Graph Search is not really revolutionary. Rather, it’s a new way to search for data that’s always been available. Graph Search is just a slicker way to perform an advanced search, and in fact, several sources claim that such a feature was already available on Facebook seven years ago, only to be scrapped. There’s no doubt that the new and improved Graph Search is far easier to use than a regular advanced search, but technically speaking, that’s all it is.

Angela has already taken you through preparing your account for Graph Search, telling you everything you should take into account if you’re thinking of enabling it, or if your friends are using it. If it’s already on, and you like it, you can check out several cool things you can search for with Graph Search (haven’t you always wanted to know where Mark Zuckerberg has been too?). I’ve even asked you to share your opinions on Graph Search, and many of you didn’t like it. So what happens is you’ve gone to the trouble, signed up for the feature, enabled it, but now you hate it? Are you stuck with it forever and ever?

The Good News

The good news is that there’s a simple way to disable Graph Search. If you’ve tried it out and your mind is set on hating it, you don’t have to keep staring at that blue bar that keeps telling you to “Search for people, places and things”. So yes, you can get your “old Facebook” (or the newest old Facebook, to be accurate) back, at least until Facebook decides you can’t anymore. What do you have to do?


Sell your SOUL!!!!

Well, no, not this time. Start by accessing your Account Settings from the cog menu. Go to the General tab and find the Language settings. Now change your language from English (US) (no, I’m not assuming you’re American, Graph Search currently works only in this language setting) to anything else you wish. If you only speak English, English (UK) or English (Pirate) should do the trick. If you speak any other language, and don’t mind having the interface in that language, switch to it.


A second after you hit the “Save Changes” button, you’ll be rid of the curse of Graph Search. At least for now.


This is a very simple workaround, but remember that’s all it is – a workaround. Which brings us to…

The Bad News

The bad news is that we’re dealing with Facebook, not a do-it-yourself customizable social network. In the past, you’ve had the chance to opt into new features such as Timeline, but once you’ve done it, there was usually no way to opt back out. Facebook has been through dozens of significant redesigns since its rise to popularity, and every single time there’s an uproar of people who don’t like it. Remember this?


How mad were you when this was taken away from you? How good does it look now? The point is, Facebook is not in the habit of letting you choose your interface, so don’t expect to avoid Graph Search forever. The language workaround will most likely stop working as soon as Graph Search becomes available for other languages.

Don’t Despair!

As with other hated features such as the news ticker and chat sidebar, some Graph Search disabling add-ons might pop up when the feature becomes more widespread. Worst case scenario, you’re stuck with it. But look at the bright side, it actually makes the Facebook toolbar look better, and you don’t have to use Graph Search if you really don’t want to.

Have you had a chance to try Graph Search? Do you love it or hate it? Have you found a brilliant way to get rid of it? Tell us all in the comments!

Image Credit: Devil’s Workshop

The post Get Rid Of Facebook’s New Graph Search With This One Simple Trick appeared first on MakeUseOf.

3 Applications To Supercharge The Character Map In Windows

It wasn’t until I started blogging as a hobby and writing for this fantastic website that I noticed how useful the Windows Character Map actually is. How? Well, the lazy version of an ellipsis is three repeating periods, on a standard keyboard… The real ellipsis is keystroke Alt+0133. And what about dashes? Do you have any idea just how many different dashes exist? There’s a particular use for each of them, too.

When the Character Map becomes a staple of your work routine, you have two options: find some third-party application to more easily bring the characters to your fingertips, or memorize the Alt keystrokes for each character. Although I do know around 25 of those keystrokes off the top of my head, I’m going to show you three solutions to that first suggestion.


CatchChar turns the Character Map into a sort of extension to the Windows clipboard.

The above screenshot is what you’ll see upon first installing the application. CatchChar includes no mention of OS compatibility on its website, but it works well on Windows 8 Pro. You can safely assume that it should work on XP and everything in between.

The default hotkey to activate CatchChar is Alt+Shift+C. If this seems a little awkward to you, it can be easily changed in the application’s settings. The hotkey has to include the Alt+Shift modifiers though.

By default, the menu will include the above characters and options. Clicking on any character in the list will immediately insert it into the field you’ve selected before pressing the hotkey.

Configuring your menu keys is about as extensive as you can make it. You’re able to insert any character, organize them in the list, add separators, and even save or restore your menu lists.

CatchChar literally puts the Character Map at your fingertips. It’s my favorite application for this purpose.


While CatchChar is a great way to get the job done, BabelMap is probably the most extensive. You will definitely see some characters that you’ve never seen before when using this application.

BabelMap boasts over 110,000 characters in its database. You’re able to search through the list of characters by name or code and characters can be copied to the clipboard to be pasted within any application that supports Unicode characters. BabelMap supports the most recent Unicode Standard of 6.2. It works on any version of Windows from 2000 onward.

For an application of such a simple purpose, the options are huge.

Here are a few features of BabelMap:

  • Browse the Unicode Character Grid by plane, block, or page (182 characters)

  • Find a character by its hexidecimal value

  • Search for characters by full or partial name

  • Forward and backward search compatibility

  • Select characters to add to a buffer with drag-and-drop editing

  • Magnify any character in the grid by right-clicking it

BabelMap is really more than an extension of the Character Map, it’s a complete character and symbol toolbox. I’ve even spent time just glancing through the list of Unicode characters for enjoyment. Who knew there was a character that represented every major traffic sign?


CharMapEx functions as a bit of a dumbed-down version of BabelMap. CharMapEx support starts at Windows 98 and works fine on my Windows 8 machine.

Like BabelMap, it shows the entire Unicode map in blocks and pages. It includes characters from the BMP (Basic Multilingual Plane), so if one of your big reasons for needing a Character Map replacement is for that then this is probably your best solution.

ChapMapEx will allow you to open multiple maps within the same window and organize them in a multi-pane view. This is great if you’re searching for two or more different kinds of symbols simultaneously. It’s much easier and more efficient than opening two instances of the same application.

Right-clicking on a character will allow you to add it to the clipboard or determine which font offers support for that particular symbol. You’re able to change the application font, among several other viewing options. You can alternate between GetGlyphIndices and cmap, as well as DrawText and Uniscribe (for rendering).

These three applications offer a lot in the realm of preference. For functionality, CatchChar is great. For extensiveness, try BabelMap. For just raw simplicity, CharMapEx is best. Nonetheless, each gets the job done and all of them are worth being appreciated.

What are some of the symbols you rush to your Character Map for? Which of these three do you find most useful? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.

The post 3 Applications To Supercharge The Character Map In Windows appeared first on MakeUseOf.

The Shortest Google Search URL

What if you want to include a link to a Google search results page and the URL needs to be short? Instead of copying the URL from the address bar and including a lot of unnecessary parameters, you can manually build a simple URL:


Obviously, you should replace "test" with your query. If there are multiple keywords, replace space with "+" like this:


You could drop "www." from the URL:


Google now uses AJAX to load search results, so you can replace "search?" with "#":


You can even drop the slash after "google.com" and the URL works in most desktop browsers, but not in mobile browsers. You could also replace "google.com" with "google.ca" or other Google domains, but you'll get different results.

Fortunately, Google owns the googl.com domain and you can use this URL:


Upcoming Google Translate Features

Google Translate has some cool features that aren't yet publicly released. They're disabled, according to the source code of the page.

The text-to-speech feature will allow you to select the dialect for languages like English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. It's nice to compare American English, British English and Australian English.

There's also a phrasebook feature that could help you learn some useful phrases and words in a variety of foreign languages. Another disabled feature is a dictionary view, but it's not clear if it only uses Google's dictionary data. Google could also monetize the service by including contextual ads.