12 July 2014

YouTube Tests New Buttons

YouTube tests a new desktop interface with a different look for buttons. The like and dislike buttons merged with the number of likes and dislikes, YouTube no longer uses tabs, "add to" opens a drop-down menu and there's a "more" menu for features like "report", "transcript" and "statistics".

Since the "about" tab is no longer displayed, you need to click a small "x" icon to go back to the video's description.

11 July 2014

Monetize your YouTube Videos that contain Someone Else’s Music

YouTube has fairly strict guidelines for your videos to be eligible for monetization. For instance, if you have recorded a video of the crowd at a music event, the video clip cannot be monetized on YouTube as you do not have the rights to the audio. Similarly, if you create a photo slideshow using music purchased from iTunes, the video is not monetizable either as you own the photographs but do not have commercial rights for the audio.

When you upload such a video to YouTube, it may either be removed for copyright infringement or YouTube may continue to host the video but all the advertising revenue is shared with the music owner and not the video uploader. Read this interesting story about how Sony successfully monetized an amateur YouTube video after it went viral on the Internet.

If there are any videos on your YouTube channel that cannot be monetized since you don’t own the music, there’s now an easy workaround. You can swap the background music of these videos with a royalty-free music track from the YouTube audio library and republish the video. As soon as you do this, the video will become eligible for monetization.

Here’re the steps involved.

YouTube Monetize Videos

Step 1: Go to the Video Manager inside YouTube and select “Unclaimed” videos from the drop-down. Alternatively, you may visit this link to directly view all your uploaded videos that are pending monetization.

Swap Audio

Step 2: The gray icon indicates that the video is non-monetized. If it is an audio issue, the fix is simple. We’ll replace the background music with another song that can be monetized. To do so, click the “Edit” button and select “Audio” from the drop-down.

Step 3: On the next screen, choose any song from the YouTube audio library that is listed as “ad-free and eligible for monetization” and position the audio such that it occupies the entire video. Click the Save button to replace the original music in your video with the selected song.

Replace Music from Video

We aren’t done yet as YouTube may take some time to mix the new track with your existing video. Once that is done, go back to the YouTube video manager and choose the Edit option for that video. Switch to the Monetization tab and select Usage Policy. Save the changes and you can now monetize that video just like your other YouTube videos.

The only limitation is that you can only choose from the track available inside the YouTube audio library, you cannot upload your own music or voice narration for the video.

This story, Monetize your YouTube Videos that contain Someone Else’s Music, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 11/07/2014 under Google AdSense, Music, YouTube, Internet

Desktop Home Screens for Docs, Sheets and Slides

Google already started to roll out the new desktop home screens for Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. They're available at http://ift.tt/1nlp6WF, http://ift.tt/1nlp8xU, http://ift.tt/1nlp7d3. If these links create new files, then you can't access the new sites yet.

The goal is to provide a desktop counterpart to the mobile apps. You can quickly switch between the desktop apps using the navigation menu and you don't even have to visit Google Drive to create a document, open a document or remove it. Google shows a grid of recent documents, but you can also switch to the list view and choose a different sorting option. Folders are only available in the file picker dialog.

The new home screens provide few file management options: you can only rename or remove files. They're mostly useful for quickly opening a recent document, spreadsheet or presentation.

All the desktop apps uses a sticky round button at the bottom of the page that lets you create new documents, spreadsheets or presentations. That button is already used by some of Google's mobile apps and will be added to many other Google apps in the near future.

{ Thanks, Herin. }

Google Audio History

A recent update of the Google Search app for Android added enhanced support for the "OK Google" hotword. If you go to the settings, tap "Voice", then "OK Google Detection", you can enable "from any screen" and "from lock screen". This way, you can say "OK Google" to start a voice search or action when the screen is on or the device is charging and even from the secure lock screen.

When you enable these features, Google asks you to say "OK Google" 3 times to train the speech recognition software and it also enables Audio History. "When you use voice activation commands such as 'OK Google' or touching a microphone icon, a recording of the next thing you say, plus a few seconds before, may be used and stored by Google and associated with your Google Account to help recognize your voice and improve speech recognition."

Your recordings are available online at the Google Audio History page. "Only you can see your history. Some items may take up to an hour to display," informs Google. You can delete the recordings, play them or click the Google search links. Click the "gear" drop-down menu, click "delete" and you can pick from "past hour", "past day", "past week", "last 4 weeks", "the beginning of time" (the same options that are used by Chrome's "clear browsing data" feature).

You can disable Google Audio History from the Android app's settings, but this also disables "OK Google" detection from any screen or from the lock screen. "When Audio History is off, voice searches will be stored using anonymous identifiers and won't be saved to your Audio History, even if you're signed in to your Google Account," informs Google.

"Google uses your Audio History to: learn the sound of your voice, learn how you pronounce words and phrases, recognize when you say 'Ok Google' and improve speech recognition across Google products that use your voice."

The Best Services for Sending Large Files over the Internet

If you have to share a large file with someone over the Internet, there are generally two options – you can either put the file in an email message as an attachment or, if the file is too big to fit inside email, you can upload it to an file hosting service and then share the download links with the recipient.

Send Large Files - Comparison

Web email services like Gmail and Outlook allow you to send files up to 25 MB in size. For sending even bigger files, you can use a file-splitting utility like HJ-Split that will break the large file into smaller chunks of 25 MB each and you can send these in separate email messages. The recipient can download and join these parts to restore the original file.

You can use online storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive for sending really big files. OneDrive lets you upload single files up to 2 GB in size while the individual size limit is 10 GB in the case of Google Drive. For even bigger files, you can use Dropbox – here the files have no size limit if you upload them to Dropbox through the desktop application.

There’s also WeTransfer — a freemium web app that lets you send files up to 2 GB in size from the browser. You don’t have to register for the service and all it asks for is the recipient’s email address. The uploaded file stays on the server for 7 days.

Also see: How to password-protect files

All the options discussed above have one thing in common – you have to upload your files to the Internet before someone can download them.

If you would like to send a file directly to someone without having to upload it anywhere, JustBeamIt is a good option. This is peer-to-peer app meaning the file transfers happen between your computer and the recipient’s computer directly. You can drag and drop a file on to the JustBeamIt website and it will instantly create a shareable link. When someone clicks this link, the file will begin to download on their machine directly from your computer.

Infinit is another impressive desktop application that also uses peer to peer file transfer and it allows you to send files of virtually any size to anyone. All you have to do is drag the file on to the Infinit app, choose any recipient from your contacts and the transfer will begin once they accept the incoming file request.

Infinit is available for both Mac and Windows and is probably the easiest way to send files big and small. It supports resumable downloads meaning if the Internet connection breaks during the file transfer, the app will pick up from where it left off after the connection is re-established. If you are sending files to another computers on the same network, Infinit uses your local area network and thus the transfers happen extremely fast.

That said, the sender and the recipient would need to install the Infinit app to use peer-to-peer transfer. Also, it is currently not possible to send files from the desktop to mobile devices.

The popular Skype app can also be used for sending documents, photos, videos and other large files of any format to your Skype contacts. Just initiate a chat session or a audio / video call with a contact and choose the Send File option to initiate a transfer. The service imposes no limit to the size or number of the files you can send or receive using Skype and since it is peer-to-peer, no centralized server is needed for the file transfer.

Also see: How to share files between Desktop and Mobile

This story, The Best Services for Sending Large Files over the Internet, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 11/07/2014 under Email, Internet

How to Work Offline in Google Chrome

When you open any web page inside Google Chrome, it connects to the Internet, fetches the latest version of the page from the server and displays it on your screen. If your computer is offline, Chrome will display an error message with a dinosaur* image saying it is unable to connect to the Internet.

Google Chrome Offline

[*] This is the Tyrannosaurus rex (or T-rex) dinosaur that had tiny little arms and the image probably illustrates that Chrome, like the dinosaur, couldn’t reach the Internet because of its short arms. (source: Quora)

Web browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox offer an offline mode that auto-saves a copy of web pages as you browse the Internet and displays this local copy when you are not connected to the Internet. Thus, if you are taking a flight, you can open all the web pages that you’d like to read later, close the browser and the pages will still be available for reading while your computer is offline.

Google Chrome doesn’t offer an offline mode by default but, as Addy Osmani points out, there’s a hidden setting that will bring this feature to the Google Browser.

While inside Chrome, type chrome://flags/#enable-offline-mode in the address bar, click “Enable” and restart your browser. Your Chrome will no longer serve the “not connected to the Internet” error if the page you are trying to access is available in the local cache.

Google Chrome caches the HTML content, images, JavaScript and the CSS stylesheets associated with a page so your offline copy should not look very different from the original. However, if there are resources that require an active Internet connection, like JavaScript widgets or videos, they’ll be replaced with placeholder images.

To test the feature, open any page inside Chrome, turn off your Wi-Fi or disconnect the Ethernet cable, and restart the browser. If the offline mode is enabled, the cached version would show up on your screen.

This story, How to Work Offline in Google Chrome, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 10/07/2014 under Google Chrome, Offline, Software

Use Google Translate in Google Search

The updated translation card for Google Search provides many of the features of the Google Translate site. Just search Google for [translate], pick the destination language, type the text you want to translate and Google translates the text in real time. By default, Google detects the language automatically.

Until now, you could have searched Google for [translate X into LANGUAGENAME]. Google only processes the first 32 words from a query, so you couldn't translate long texts. Now you can type or paste long texts in the translation card.

There's still a limit, so you might see this message: "Text exceeds character limit. Open in Google Translate to see translation".

For more advanced features, click "open in Google Translate" below the card.

10 July 2014

Distance Measurement in the New Google Maps

You can now measure distances in the new desktop interface for Google Maps, just like in the Labs feature from the classic Google Maps. "You can measure the distance between two or more points on the map using Google Maps. For example, measure the distance between two cities," explains Google.

Right-click the map where you want to start measuring, select "Measure distance" and click the map to add new places to your path.

Google Maps shows distances on the map in kilometres or miles, but you can't switch between metric and imperial units.

You can adjust the path using drag and drop: drag a point to move it, click a point to remove it.

There's a "measure distance" card that shows the exact distance. Right-click the map and select "clear measurement" to remove your path or click "x" in the sidebar card.

The new distance measurement tool is better than the old feature:

* it's a standard feature, it's not hidden in Google Maps Labs

* it's easier to find: use the contextual menu instead of clicking the small ruler icon

* it's more flexible: you can drag any point to move it, click it to remove it

* it shows more information on the map

{ via +Google Maps }

09 July 2014

Chromecast Adds Support for Android Screen Mirroring

As previously announced at Google I/O, Chromecast is about to become a lot more functional. The latest version of the Chromecast app for Android (that's version 1.7) adds support for screen mirroring. The feature is still in beta and it's limited to a few high-end Android phones and tablets: Nexus 4, 5, 7 (second generation only) and 10, Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, Note 3 and 10, HTC One M7, LG G2, G3 and G Pro 2. Google promises to add more devices to the list.

"To start mirroring, simply select 'Cast Screen' from the navigation drawer in the Chromecast app and select your Chromecast device. On Nexus devices, this feature is also available through the quick settings menu," explains Google.

Hopefully, Android L will add native support for screen mirroring, so you'll no longer have to use the Chromecast app.

Updated Translation Card for Google Search

Google updated the translation card and made it more useful and more interactive. When you search for [translate hello to italian] or other similar queries, Google lets you change the input language and the translation language, switch between the two languages, edit the text you want to translate, listen to the translated text and find alternate translations.

If you use the mobile interface, you can also enable a full screen mode.

Here's the old Google Translate card:

{ Thanks, Herin. }

HTTPS YouTube Streams

Most Google services use HTTPS and Google wants to switch the entire Web to HTTPS. YouTube uses encrypted connections for signed-in users and even video streams use SSL. You can check this by right-clicking a video, selecting "Stats for nerds" and reading the "stream type" value for the HTML5 player or the third line for the Flash player.

More than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube. A study from 2013 concluded that YouTube video streaming accounted for more than 18 percent of all downstream traffic in North America.

5 years ago, SSL was mostly used for online banking and logging in to various sites. Few online services offered HTTPS as an option and one of them was Gmail back in 2008. HTTPS access for Gmail was enabled by default in 2010. Google released Secure Search in 2010 and made it the default option last year.

While protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks makes sense, what's the point of delivering hundreds of megabytes of publicly available videos though HTTPS? Privacy is a good reason. Traffic is encrypted, it can't easily be decoded by third parties between your computer and Google's servers.

Back in 2009, Microsoft didn't use SSL by default for logging in and now YouTube uses SSL to stream videos.

08 July 2014

Google Redesigns "Unusual Sign-in Location" Page

If you sign it to your Google account from a different country, you'll probably see a page that asks you to verify it's really you and not someone who managed to obtain your password. This page has been recently redesigned and looks better.

After you enter your credentials, Google shows a list of verification methods. If you've provided a recovery email address, you can enter it (Google shows the the first and the last character). If you've provided a phone number, you can enter it or ask Google to send a verification code in an SMS message or voice call. You can answer your secret question or enter the name of the city or town where you usually sign in. If you can't answer any of the questions or enter the verification code, you still have an option: reset your password.

"The additional step at sign in is designed to prevent an unauthorized person who does not know you from accessing your account, even if they've obtained your username and password. While this won't necessarily stop people who know you from accessing your account (for that, try 2-step verification), it's an important measure to keep hijackers who have a long list of passwords from doing malicious things with your account, such as creating spam or accessing and deleting valuable data," informs Google.

This page has a screenshot that shows the old interface. Google used to ask: "Hey username@gmail.com, is that really you?".

{ Thanks, Herin. }

07 July 2014

Email Alerts Services That You Should Use

You have been using Google Alerts for keeping track of anything new and interesting on the web around your topics of interest but did you know that there exists a plethoro of other email alerting services that are again very useful and do not cost a penny. Let me just dive right in.

email alerts

  1. Follow your World – The is a Google service that allows you to track satellite images of various locations within Google Maps and Google Earth. You’ll get an email alert each time Google releases new and updated aerial imagery for the various locations that you are tracking.

  2. Newsle – The service tracks news websites and alerts you when any of your friends or people in your social network appear in news stories. It analyzes your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to determine your friends and colleagues.

  3. Brook – Your Twitter timeline is a never-ending stream of tweets and sometimes good tweets get lost in the noise. Brooks sends you a daily email digest of the five best tweets from your favorite tweeters so you’ll never miss what they say.

  4. Visual Ping – You can visually mark an area on any web page and the service will send an email alert when the web page changes. You can also set the trigger to go only when there are major modification to the page.

  5. Earthquake Alerts – The USGS website offers a free earthquake notification service that sends you email alerts when earthquakes are reported in your area. You can mark your area on a Google Map and it will notify you of any seismic activity around that area.

  6. Domain Tools – This service allows you to monitor web domains and alerts you via email when any of the monitored domains are nearing expiration, when they are renewed or if there any crucial changes in the Whois records of the domain. Explore more tools to know everything about websites.

  7. Book Alerts – You can use the search feature of Amazon to track the release of upcoming books by your favorite authors. Just enter the book publication date somewhere in the future.

  8. Follow-up Gmail – The “starred” folder of your Gmail is a dumping ground of email messages that require follow-up. This Google Script sends a daily digest of 10 random messages, picked from your starred items, that may require follow-up.

  9. Talkwalker – Get email alerts when your name, your brand or your website gets mentioned in news stories, websites and forums. This may be a good alternative to Google Alerts.

  10. Wikipedia Watch – You can put one or more Wikpedia pages in your watchlist and the website will send you email notification when the content of these articles is edited. The changes are also available as RSS feeds.

    Also see: Email Alerts for Website Downtime

  11. Mention – While Google Alerts track mentions on websites, the Mention service monitors the social media websites and commenting platforms, Disqus for example, for your search terms. Also, it only monitors freshly-baked content that has been published in the past 24 hours.

  12. Timehop – Every morning you’ll get an email with a photograph or a status update that you may have published on your Twitter, Instagram or Facebook account an year ago. Timehop is avilable as an app for Android and iOS devices.

  13. IFTTT – The popular IFTTT service offers several email alerting services rolled into one. You can receive email alerts for severe weather conditions, get notified about stock price fluctuations, monitor Craigslist and more.

  14. Amazon Price Tracker – Create a list of one or more items available on the Amazon website and you’ll get daily email alerts when the price of your monitored items goes up or down.

  15. MouseLock – This is a unique service that monitors your unattended computer and send your an email alert with the picture of the person who tried to use the computer in your absence.

Also see: Most Useful Email Addresses

This story, Email Alerts Services That You Should Use, was originally published at Digital Inspiration on 07/07/2014 under Email, Internet

From Google TV to Android TV

I was curios to find how Google plans to restart the Google TV project, so I checked the developer sites for Google TV and Android TV to find some differences. Android TV seems to be a simplified Google TV built along the lines of Apple TV.

Android TV

Google TV

1. Navigation: from keyboards and mice to remote controls

"Google TV devices always include a keyboard and a pointing device that controls the cursor. Many users will have these next to them as they view TV. The two may be combined into a single physical device, and this device may also include a mouse controller." Android TV has a more limited scope: "On a TV device, users navigate with controls on a remote control device, using either a directional pad (D-pad) or arrow keys." While keyboards are still supported, they're no longer that useful.

2. Avoiding text input

While Google TV devices included keyboards, Android TV recommends developers to avoid text input. "Avoid making users enter text whenever possible, and use voice interfaces when you require text input."

3. Avoiding text altogether

Google TV's dev pages suggested to "limit each paragraph to no more than 90 words and break text into small chunks that users can quickly scan". Android TV's guidelines tell developers to "avoid using on-screen text to convey information and purpose. Tell your story with pictures and sound."

4. From computing to content consumption

Google TV included a browser with Flash support and encouraged developers to optimize their sites for the platform. Android TV tells a different story: "The TV is an entertainment interface, not a computer or mobile device. Optimize for activities that put content at the center: from the casual posture of movie-watching, to immersive gameplay, to hanging out with friends in a living room." And another thing: "We discourage including web browsing in games for Android TV. The television set is not well-suited for browsing, either in terms of display or control scheme."

5. Simplicity

One of the main issues with Google TV was that it was complicated to use. "Android TV is simple and magical. It's all about finding and enjoying content and apps with the least amount of friction."

Google TV's goal was to bring the Web to the TV. That didn't work well: content providers blocked Google TV, input devices were clunky and people didn't like browsing the Web on their TVs. So now Android TV tries to bring the Android ecosystem to the TV: the focus is on content, immersive interfaces and simple navigation.

Here's the 2010 introduction video to Google TV: