Need more space in Google Drive or more editing options in Google Photos? Then Google has Google One to provide both. It does cost money, starting at £1.59 for 100GB (the free Google Drive is 15GB), photo editing and a VPN for privacy and security (to find out more about VPNs go here: https://www.theflyingdoctor.biz/info/index.php/2017/03/20/virtual-private-networks/. The last alone is more than £1.59 pm from VPN vendors, although they are more sophisticated. You can even get as much as 2TB for £7.99pm which is a bargain and is twice as much space as the typical laptop – however, it is useful as a backup destination. So you might settle for 200GB for £2.49 a month.
Even more amazing is that you can share the storage with up to five others (and that might justify 2TB as you each get 400GB) – you each have private space.
Google Photos is enhanced with ‘magic eraser’ and creative tools like HDR to give your photos more sparkle.
And if any of this is confusing then you have access to enhanced support for Google products.
A new, experimental, feature in the Edge web browser lets you see two tabs side by side, so that you can compare them. At the moment it is experimental so it needs to be enabled manually.
In the browser address bar type edge://flags and press enter. Now look for ‘Microsoft Edge split screen’, select Enabled from the drop-down menu and restart Edge.
You will now find a ‘split window’ button. Pressing this will move the current tab contents to the left and allows you to choose another tab to show on the right.
Alternatively, you can enter a web address for the right side or open a link in the left in the right side. Hover over the top-right corner, choose ‘switch between linked and unlinked tabs’ and select ‘open link from left to right tab.
Or, like most browsers, drag the tab from the tab bar onto the desktop to open it in a new window. Not as much functionality but a lot easier!
With online check -in and charges for better seats, it’s hard to just roll up to check-in and ask for help.
Well, there are places to go. https://seatguru.com is a great site where you can enter your flight details and the website displays a seat map together with advice on good or bad seats. I use it a lot to get the best value.
If you use Google Chrome or Edge, there is an extension called ‘legrooms for google flights’ which compares airlines when you search for flights in Google Flights. It marks the most generous in green and the worst in red.
So stretch out!
I don’t subscribe, but if you do there is a way to change the size and colour of subtitles. Scroll down to the main page of a show and find ‘audio and subtitles’. Choose your subtitle language and set the show playing.
Now use your remote to bring up the playback options by pressing down. Press down again and go across to the settings cog on the far right. There you will find the subtitle choices.
I do just tend to set the sort order to ‘price low to high’ when I am buying a specific product, but if you are searching for a category, like televisions, then discount can be telling.
One can just look for heavily discounted items from the home page by adding a code to the end of the search, such as ‘television &pct-off=40-’ to see TVs with 40% or more off normal selling price. Just alter the 40 to whatever you want. Using ‘pct-off=20-40’ will show discounted items between 20 and 40% off.
Another option is www.jungle-search.com, which is a sophisticated search engine for Amazon. Make sure it is set to the UK at the top-right. Now you can see lots of search options for Amazon. It works pretty well, but as it is creating a search for submission to Amazon, it can sometimes be a little off the mark. Definitely worth trying, though.
Having unique passwords is very important to keeping you safe online. There are various password managers, but Google Chrome has improved its built-in password manager. This can tell you if your passwords have been compromised or whether they are weak.
You do need to be signed in to do this. Go to ‘settings’, then ‘autofill’ on the left followed by ‘password manager’ and finally ‘Check passwords’.
If it finds any problems, then you can use the blue ‘change password’ button to (usually) go to the password reset page for that website.
And yes, it can happen to you.
A topic that I return to frequently but it keeps evolving. We are potentially tricked into visiting more and more websites and clicking on dangerous downloads.
The browser providers can help you by putting up shields that will identify a lot of problem sites. And we need all the help we can get! To activate these if they aren’t already:
Chrome: go to settings-privacy and security. Now select ‘enhanced protection’
Edge: use settings-privacy, search and services. Scroll most of the way down and turn on ‘enhance your security on the web’.
Firefox: settings-privacy and security. Near the bottom is ‘Block dangerous and deceptive content’.
Under new laws the Government can make internet providers provide data about customers’ online activity.
You can make this harder by encrypting the DNS requests that your browser makes when you visit websites. Basically DNS translate the website name you enter into the numbers that the internet actually uses.
DNS-over-HTTPS makes it harder for people to see what you are doing. In Chrome or Brave settings-privacy and security-security and turn ‘Use secure DNS’ on. Now choose a provider other than your internet provider.
For Edge, settings-privacy, search and services-security and turn ‘Use secure DNS’ on.
Firefox settings-general-network settings-settings. Now enable ‘Enable DNS over HTTPS’
Over the New Year I’ve been experimenting with some free streaming services that I can add to my TV: if you can’t add apps, then you can also run them on your computer and couple that to your TV to watch.
Pluto.tv has 250 live TV channels (although not in the same sense as BBC and ITV: more topic-based) and on-demand services grouped into categories or just do a direct search. It is free and there is no need to sign up. It’s funded by advertising so there are some interruptions. I find that a lot of the stuff is quite good but tends to be ‘classic’ programmes
Plex is more widely known and has a similar advert-driven model. Again plenty of ‘channels’ and on-demand stuff. There is quite a bit of modern stuff but many drive you to a service that will charge.
Finally, Amazon has added FreeVee to its range of services. It used to be called IMDb TV. This has original content as well as lots of movies, shows and channels. Again it is interrupted by adverts and I see these even though I am a Prime subscriber and quite a bit of the stuff that I used to watch on Prime Video seems to have moved over to FreeVee, so I get the ads as well!
It is good that we are able to stop websites getting lots of knowledge about us but clicking all the options can take ages, especially all those sites which have hundreds of ‘legitimate interest’ ticks.
An add-on for most browsers does this all for you (most of the time!). Consent-O-Matic handles the forms in for you. I can watch the consent form just shrinking away in front of me. By default it refuses everything but you can click the icon in the browser bar and change what it blocks.