December 31, 2016

Firefox 64-Bit Now Available for Windows with Improved Performance

Windows: Firefox has been available in unofficial and testing 64-bit builds for years, but this week, Mozilla finally released an official 64-bit version of Firefox for Windows 7 and above.
Along with the other minor changes in Firefox 43, you’ll also find new versions of Firefox on the download page (you have to re-download it from Mozilla; upgrading won’t get you the 64-bit version). Note that it doesn’t have support for many plugins, because Firefox is phasing out support for NPAPI plugins by the end of 2016—so if you still rely on any of those, you may want to stick to 32-bit for now. But, if you’re on a 64-bit system, you may see some performance improvements with the new version.
Check it out by downloading the installer here.
Firefox 64-bit for Windows Available | Mozilla Future Releases


Firefox 64-bit for Windows Now Available

By Vygantas | December 16, 2015 Grab it now. 
With the recent release of Firefox 43, Mozilla has finally introduced the stable 64-bit build for Windows users, something we have been waiting for almost a decade.
In case you forgot, Mozilla has abandoned the 64-bit builds back in 2012 due to the “significant negative feedback” only to change their minds afterwards.

As far as Firefox 43 features go, it includes Private Browsing with Tracking Protection that allows users to choose additional blocking trackers, search suggestions selection from the Awesome Bar, on-screen keyword on selected input fields, various security fixes and changes for developers.
Congrats to Mozilla for reaching a significant milestone.
Firefox 43

November 23, 2016

Web browser benchmarks: Firefox vs. Waterfox vs. Pale Moon vs. Chromium vs. Chrome


I was curious how some browser perform and what kind of web browser benchmarks were available, so I ran Kraken, SunSpider, HTML5, JetStream, Octane 2.0 and Acid3 on Firefox, Waterfox, Pale Moon, Chromium and Chrome. Here are the results with my rig 2600k @ 4.4Ghz, 16GB RAM, Samsung 840 EVO SSD.

Kraken & Sunspider -> lower is better, in every other test bigger is better. I ran each test 5 times and calculated the average. I also made some Google docs sheet:
Link .

Firefox 44 EME-free 64-bitWaterfox 43.0.4 64-bitPalemoon 26.0.2 64-bitChromium 50.0.2641.0 64-bitGoogle Chrome 48.0.2564.103 64-bit Iron 48.0.2550.0 64-bit Vivaldi 1.0.344.37 (Beta 2) (32-bit) Cyberfox 44.0.2 64-bit midori 0.5.11 32-bit Qupzilla 1.8.9 64-bit GNUIceCat 38.6.0 32-bit
Download Kraken: 907.2ms ± 1.6%
SunSpider: 158.1ms ± 4.7%
HTML5 Test: 461 out of 555 points
JetStream: 177.13 ± 31.144
Octane 2.0: 32297
Acid3: 99/100

It seems to me that Chromium, Waterfox and Firefox are head on head. However Chromium passes more HTML5 tests and on top of that the Kraken (931/919/907 ms) and SunSpider (164/171/158 ms) tests differ by mere milliseconds. So I’d say the overall winner out of these 3 is Chromium.
If we throw Google Chrome into the pool of candidates then the result is quite different: Google Chrome wins the crown even if its SunSpider result is a mite slower than Pale Moon’s! If you know any other good web browser benchmarks or if you want other browser benchmarked, let me know in the comments or via contact form!
That said, take this benchmark test with a grain of salt. There are just too many factors involved for it to be a real representative test about browser speeds. In my opinion though it’s a good starting point.
Edit 2016-02-06: As I’ve been made aware on Reddit, none of the browsers passed the Acid3 test, because no animation was smooth. Something I oversaw. Apologies!
Edit 2016-02-17: A few browser have been added after the publication of this post. They’re marked with a right caret.

October 20, 2016

Send Faxes From the Web: Three Services Tested

Though you might be tempted to ditch your office fax machine, you probably have to send out at least a few faxes every year. Windows lets you fax from the OS itself; but it requires you to use a landline that your small business may not want tied up, and it lacks security and mobile features that your business may need.
Luckily, a number of services can keep you covered even if you don't have a fax machine connected to an old telephone line. I took three Web fax services for a quick test drive. Here's how they fared.


FaxZero is a bare-bones fax service, with no options for receiving faxes or for faxing from your mobile devices. Nevertheless, as long as your fax is less than three pages long and you don't need to send more than five faxes a day, FaxZero is free and doesn't require any type of sign-up process. Just enter your contact information and the fax number you want to send to, and then upload the document you want to send. FaxZero should send your fax in a matter of minutes. When I tested the service with a two-page document, I received a confirmation e-mail about 3 minutes after I pressed Send that my fax was on its way. The fax arrived at its destination moments later.
If you plan to fax a lot of documents, however, FaxZero isn't your best option. It charges $2 for each fax that exceeds three pages in length and for each one beyond the company's limit of five free faxes per day. That isn't much of a burden if only a fax or two each week aren't free, but if you plan to use the service as a replacement to a regularly used fax machine, the overage fees can add up quickly.


MyFax is a feature-rich fax option that's great for users who need more than an occasional fax machine replacement. The company makes sending even international faxes by email easy; all you have to do is address your fax to When you sign up with MyFax you automatically get a fax number in your local area code for receiving incoming faxes. The service automatically converts faxes into PDF files and stores them on MyFaxCentral, the company's easy-to-navigate Web dashboard. When I sent my two-page test document from MyFaxCentral to myself, I received the fax along with a confirmation email message almost immediately after pressing Send. If you don't want to use MyFax's site for some reason, you can arrange for all incoming faxes to go to your email address as well as to five other email addresses you choose. MyFax even has mobile apps available that let you send and receive faxes on the go via your Android or iOS smartphone.
MyFax's base plan, which costs $10 per month, lets you send 100 faxes a month and receive another 200 faxes. If you exceed those limits, the company charges 10 cents per page for the surplus faxes--but it also offers $20-per-month and $40-per-month plans that establish higher send and receive ceilings.


eFax offers many of the same features as MyFax. The two companies have almost identical sign-up procedures that involve first picking your free incoming fax number, then tying your account to an email address, and finally providing billing information. eFax's methodology for faxing by email is nearly identical to MyFax's. too. Both companies have Web-based dashboards that support faxing even to international numbers, and both offer Android and iOS mobile apps. My test fax with eFax yielded a nearly instantaneous transmission plus an email message confirming that my fax had been sent.
Despite the similarities, eFax has some powerful features that MyFax doesn't. One is that eFax supports digital signatures, which can save you time and trouble if you often have to sign forms and return them via fax. The company also lets you digitally encrypt your faxes for an extra layer of SSL/PGP security over traditional faxing. That feature is particularly important if you work with sensitive information and must comply with regulations such as HIPAA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, or the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. eFax permanently archives all of your sent and received email messages, too (MyFax deletes older faxes after one month), and it offers storage for files as large as 1GB.
[Related: "Digital Signatures Let You Ditch That Old Fax Machine"]
On the other hand, to use advanced features such as digital signatures, you must download eFax's eFax Messaging Software (Windows or Mac version). The application is fairly easy to work with, but having to open it is a minor hassle. eFax is also significantly more expensive than MyFax: The lowest-level eFax Plus account costs $17 per month for 150 incoming and 150 outgoing faxes a month. The higher-volume rate is $20 per month for 200 incoming and 200 outgoing faxes, for $19.95 per month. A 10-cents-per-page overage fee kicks in if you exceed the limit on either plan.

The Verdict

Web faxing services
If you're in a hurry and just want to send occasional short faxes, FaxZero is your best option among these three. It's easy to use, it sends faxes quickly, and it's free. If you need to send longer faxes regularly, however, MyFax probably delivers the best bang for your buck. MyFax's $10-per-month price is significantly lower than eFax's for many of the same features. But if your business requires secure transmissions, eFax may be the way to go, since it allows encrypted faxing. (And as a bonus, it lets you store larger files.)


August 2, 2016

Firefox 48 Released, Multi-Process Enabled By Default For Some Users

Firefox 48 was released today and it includes changes such as enhanced download protection, initial multi-process (Electrolysis, or e10s for short) rollout in Firefox for Desktop, and more.

Firefox Ubuntu

Until version 48, by default, the stable version of Firefox used a single operating system process for the user interface, as well as the web content.

With the latest Firefox 48, the initial process of enabling Electrolysis (multi-process Firefox) has begun. Electrolysis is used to host, render, and execute web-related content in a separate process, which improves security and performance.

For now, this is only enabled for 1% of eligible Firefox users. If all goes well, e10s will be enabled for more eligible users in the following weeks.

Among those who are not eligible for e10s are Windows XP users, users with screen readers, RTL users, and extension users. The plan is to enable it by default for all eligible users, with Firefox 49.

To see if e10s is enabled in for you, open a new tab in Firefox 48 and type "about:support" (without the quotes), then look for "Multiprocess Windows". If its value is higher than 0, e10s is enabled.

Firefox Ubuntu

Users can force Firefox to enable e10s, but it's not encouraged, especially when using add-ons.

It's also important to mention that according to the Multiprocess Firefox page, the current e10s implementation gets the Firefox user interface to run in a process and all browser tabs (web content) to run in a different process. Future versions are expected to have more than one content process.

Other changes in Firefox 48 include:
  • add-on signing can no longer be disabled. This means you can no longer install add-ons that are not signed by Mozilla, even by forcing "xpinstall.signatures.required" to "false";
  • enhanced download protection. Two additional download types were added to the existing Safe Browsing feature: unwanted software (which is software that makes unexpected changes to your computer) and uncommon downloads (which, like the name suggests, it's software that's not commonly downloaded). Also, the Downloads icon now warns if a download has been flagged, and the default action button will be either "open" or "remove", depending on the category. More about this, HERE;
  • the address bar results now display "super smart icons" to let you know when a website is already open in a tab or it exists in your bookmarks. This was available in previous versions, but using a different design that made it less noticeable;
  • redesigned add-on discovery page;
  • the media parser has been redeveloped using the Rust programming language;
  • WebRTC improvements, fixes for Heyo, Jabra & Logitech C920 webcam users;
  • WebExtensions support is now considered stable;
  • Linux: Better Canvas performance with speedy Skia support;
  • Windows: Tab (move buttons) and Shift+F10 (pop-up menus) now behave as they should in Firefox customization mode;
  • more.

A complete Firefox 48 for desktops changelog can be found HERE. If you're interesting in the latest Firefox 48 for Android, you'll find the changes HERE.

Here are a few screenshots with some of these changes:

Firefox Ubuntu
Unsigned addons can't be installed, even if forced using "xpinstall.signatures.required" set to "false"

Firefox Ubuntu
Redesigned add-on discovery page

Firefox Ubuntu
"Super smart icons" for already bookmarked / opened in a tab websites

Download Firefox

Ubuntu users: Firefox 48 should be available as an update (via Software Updater) soon.


July 9, 2016

4 Easy Tricks to Make Firefox Run Faster

Mozilla Firefox was helping web users avoid Internet Explorer long before Google Chrome arrived, and it’s still going strong. Like all apps though, it can slow down over time. Here are four quick ways you can try to get the spring back in Firefox’s step.

1) Manage the cache

Firefox’s cache is designed to speed up your web browsing by storing certain files locally rather than having to fetch them every time. However, there’s a balance to be struck—if the cache gets too big then it can start causing problems and affect performance. Fortunately, Firefox includes some clever cache management options.

Choose Options from the Firefox menu, then click Advanced and Network. Here you can clear the cache (only do this occasionally) and decrease its size by ticking the Override automatic cache management box. If you have a lot of memory and drive space available, increasing the cache size could work better in terms of performance.

2) Refresh Firefox

Firefox has a built-in refresh feature that works a little like the refresh feature in 
Windows 10: it resets most of the browser’s settings without affecting any of your personal data, such as bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, cookies, and so on. It can often solve problems with sluggishness and the feature is handy for troubleshooting other issues as well.
Type “about:support” into the address bar in Firefox and then click the 
Refresh Firefox button to see if it makes a difference. You can also refresh the browser (and read more about the refresh feature) via this official guide. Some settings may need reconfiguring afterwards but you should notice a speed boost .

3) Cut down on the bloat

Dozens of redundant applications can slow down your computer, and dozens of redundant extensions and plug-ins can slow down Firefox. Getting rid of them not only means the browser becomes a leaner beast, it also improves browser security (as there are fewer bits of code to go wrong and fewer avenues through which hackers can get at you).

Add-ons from the Firefox menu to disable both extensions and plug-ins. You may want to do a bit of research on the web before killing anything—particularly when it comes to plug-ins—to make sure you’re not going to break anything along the way. Plug-ins can only be deactivated, whereas you can either disable or remove extensions.

4) Install these two extensions

Yes, we just told you to uninstall most of your extensions, but some of them are genuinely useful. Take 
Auto Unload Tab, for example, which will ditch inactive tabs after a delay of your choice to free up memory and CPU resources. It’s pretty customizable too and you can specify particular tabs and URLs that you never want to be ‘unloaded.’
Then there’s 
Speed Tweaks—this extension gives you easy access to all those hidden Firefox flags that can speed up performance (they’re also accessible by visiting the “about:config” page). A quick web search on any of these flags will show you what they do and how you can tweak their associated values to improve your browser’s speed.

By David Nield



July 2, 2016

Opera just added a free VPN to its browser for anonymous internet access

Virtual private networks are popular with privacy-conscious computer users, but the best services cost while the free ones often have hidden costs. Web browser Opera, though, has integrated a free and unlimited VPN into the developer version of its software. "Now, you don’t have to download VPN extensions or pay for VPN subscriptions to access blocked websites and to shield your browsing when on public Wi-Fi," said the company in blog post.
VPNs make it more difficult to track your web traffic

VPNs route users' internet traffic through servers in different countries, making it more difficult for governments and hackers to monitor web traffic, and allowing users to access content that might be geo-restricted to a certain country. (Letting a European user watch American Netflix, for example.) Opera quotes statistics from the Global Web Index claiming that more than half a billion people have tried or are currently using VPNs, with the service most popular among young people. To use the new service, you just need to download the developer version of Opera and activate the VPN via the preferences menu.

It's an interesting move from Opera and an obvious bid to attract more tech-savvy users. The company has previously built ad-blocking software directly into the developer version of its browser, and offering an integrated VPN plays to the same crowd.
It's also worth considering whether services like this could become more mainstream in the future. After all, ad-blocking software was originally fairly niche, but is now being used by a wider audience. Could VPNs go the same way? Opera is still the minnow of the browser world (with between one and five percent of the market depending on what stats you believe) but it could be about to have an outsized impact.

VPN options in the developer version of Opera's browser.


June 11, 2016

Firefox "New Tab Override" Add-on - brings back the old Firefox page

I like the old Firefox new tab page. It was clean and offered some basic links with an uncluttered appearance using your favorite search engine. Firefox removed this feature with Firefox version 41. Well a young developer brought it back with the "New Tab Override" add-on. Below is the traditional new tab page along with a link where to get this add-on. Enjoy.

April 23, 2016

A handy tip about updating Flash in the Chrome browser

After my last blog, about recent updates to the Flash Player, a reader was nice enough to pass along a tip that I am now passing along to you. I track updates to the Flash Player on my FlashTester.orgsite, and a number of times Chrome has been late installing an update. The browser would report that it was up to date, yet Flash would be a release behind. My last blog mentioned the helplessness of Chrome users to force an update to Flash. It turns out, we are not helpless. In addition to the standard, well-known mechanism, shown below, for updating Chrome (hamburger menu -> Help -> About Google Chrome), Google has a second system that they sometimes use for Flash.

Updating the Chrome web browser, the normal way

Chrome, like all browsers, is a large complex package. On the Windows 7 computer that I normally use, the

C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\49.0.2623.112
folder is currently 390 megabytes and contains 88 files. In addition, Chrome stores files in
C:\Users\[windowsuserid]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data
Many of the files in this second location are the browser cache, but, even ignoring the cache, Chrome has 3,768 files here consuming 239 megabytes.
Rather than do a full refresh for a small change, Google's second update system does small updates for small changes. The parts of Chrome that can be individually updated are called components and the Flash Player, embedded in Chrome, is one of these components.
Google mentions this in an article targeted at IT administrators called Manage Chrome updates on Windows. It makes a good first impression. The article says that the "Chrome Component Updater allows the Chrome engineering team to release small updates to parts of Chrome on a very rapid schedule." Compared to the full browser update, the article notes that the Component Updater uses a small amount of bandwidth and only runs when the browser itself is running.

The downside, for me at least, has been that there was no interface to the Chrome Component Updater.
The tip that I received (thanks Michael) was that there is, in fact, an interface to it, and, that the Component Updater can be used to update Flash. 
The interface is a URL, chrome://components


Updating Chrome browser components

The number of Chrome components varies by operating system. The screen shot above, taken on Windows 10, indicates there are nine, only the first five are shown. There are six components on OS X 10.10, eight on Windows 7, nine on Windows 8.1 and two on Chrome OS 49.

The Flash Player is identified as "pepper_flash". Simply click the gray "Check for update" button and the Chrome Component Updater will not only check for updates, it will also download and install an available update.

The "Component updated" message in the screen shot above is the result of upgrading Flash from version to If there is no available update, the button click response is "Component not updated". If your computer is slow and/or the component is large, you may briefly see a "component downloading" message too.

In my tests, the Chrome Component Updater worked consistently across Windows, OS X and Chrome OS. The only downside is that on Chrome OS (tested on version 49) Flash is not an available component.

So, there is no excuse for Windows and Mac users to run Chrome with an old version of Flash. Good thing too, considering how buggy it has been over the years.


April 20, 2016

Five Worthwhile Uses for Private Browsing Mode (Besides Porn)

People snicker about private browsing mode, but it isn’t just for pornography. In fact, it’s not even just for browsing privately–it has other uses. It’s named Incognito Mode in Chrome, Private Browsing in Firefox and Safari, and InPrivate Browsing in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer–but it’s essentially the same feature in all these browsers.
This is all thanks to the way private browsing mode works. It gives you a temporary browser session that doesn’t share cookies with your main browser, and the data–including those cookies–is automatically erased when you close the private browsing window.

Sign Into a Website With a Multiple Accounts at Once



Most websites don’t allow you to sign in with more than one account at a time. But private browsing mode offers a solution. Rather than signing out and signing in with another account, you can stay signed in in your main browsing window and open a private browsing window alongside it. Sign into a different account in the private browsing window and you’ll be signed into two accounts at once.
This works because your browser’s cookies (and therefore, your login state) aren’t shared between these window.
You can also use private browsing mode to quickly sign into another account to check something. When you close your private browsing window, its cookies will be wiped and that other account will be signed out.

Bypass Article Reading Limits



Some websites–including many newspaper websites–limit you to a small number of free articles every day, week, or month. They then demand you pay for a subscription before reading more.
The count of how many articles you’ve read is generally stored on your web browser’s cookies. If a website ever informs you your free articles have been used up, open a private browsing window and access that web page. In many cases, it should load normally.
You can often do this from the website itself by right-clicking a link, too. For example, in Chrome, you can right-click a link and select “Open in Incognito Window” to open that link directly in a private browsing window.
If you run into the limit in the private browsing window, just close the private browsing window and re-open it to continue reading.
Sure, if you really depend on a publication, you may want to consider paying for the subscription. It’s less hassle in the long run, too. But this trick allows you to view a few more articles without paying.

Sign In Temporarily On Other People’s Computers



Let’s say you need to use a friend or family member’s computer to sign into an account-perhaps you just need to check Facebook or your email.
If you did this the normal way, you’d have to sign them out of Facebook or their email account and sign into yours. You’d then need to remember to sign out of your accounts afterwards, or you’d stay signed in on their computer. They’d then need to sign back in with their own account afterwards.
Rather than going through all this trouble, just open a private browsing window and sign into your account in that window. When you’re done, close the window and you’ll be signed out completely. You’ll know for sure that you didn’t stay signed into any of your accounts on their PC. Web pages you visit also won’t appear in their computer’s history.
This isn’t a foolproof solution for PCs you don’t trust, of course. Malware or keystroke-logging software could spy on you and log your password. But, assuming you do trust someone’s computer, this method is just less hassle.

Bypass Search Engine Filtering and See How Other Websites Look to the Public



Google uses your search history and the other information it knows about you to show you customized search results. This is normally useful, but sometimes you might want to see how Google search results appear to everyone else. For example, you may be Googling your own name or the name of your business. If you’re signed in, Google might show results about you higher in the  search results. But you may want to know how you rank in other people’s search results.
To escape this filtering, just open a private browsing window and perform your search on Google. You’ll be signed out in the private browsing window, so you’ll see the “pure,” unfiltered Google search results. The private browsing window will also have a fresh set of cookies, so Google can’t tailor the results based on your previous searches.
This method will also work on other search engines and any site that provides a customized experience to you based on your user account or your previous activity.
The above tip isn’t just about search engines. Private browsing mode lets you see how any web page appears to the public. This can be useful on Facebook, Google+, and other social-networking websites. Rather than signing out and signing back in afterwards, you can use a private browsing window to see how signed-out people see your social media profile.

Prevent Products From Appearing in Shopping Histories and Advertisements

You may sometimes want to keep certain searches private–not from your computer and other people using it, but from online websites.
For example, let’s say you’re researching a type of product you want to buy online, or even specific product. If you start searching for it on Amazon, Amazon will remember you were looking at that type of product. You’ll start seeing ads for the product on Amazon itself. You’ll even see ads asking you to buy that product on Amazon on other websites you visit, as Amazon’s advertisements chase you around the web.
If you don’t want this to happen, use a private browsing window and that activity won’t be associated with your Amazon account or browsing session. This method isn’t just for Amazon, but works on other online shopping websites that do the same thing.

These are just a few things you could routinely use private browsing mode for. There’s more, of course. Whenever you want to access a web page with a fresh browser state and without your browser saving any data afterwards, use this tool.


April 13, 2016

Meet the first web browser with real potential to be better than Chrome

For a long time I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Chrome. I love how it opens pages more quickly than any other browser I’ve used but I hate all the resources that it gobbles up to make that performance happen. I like Microsoft’s Edge browser but there’s still something missing for me there that I can’t quite put my finger on.

However, for the past couple of days I’ve been playing around with the new Vivaldi browser and it looks like I may have finally found the browser that will allow me to comfortably ditch Chrome.

Vivaldi was created by a team led by Opera Software cofounder  Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner and the level of polish shown in their just-released first version is quite impressive. Among other things, I’ve never had the level of customization on a browser than what I’ve seen on Vivaldi so far.
Do you like having your tabs at the bottom or sides of the page instead of the top? Vivaldi can do that. Would you like the ability to open and close new tabs using only gestures? It’s got you covered there as well. Or maybe you’d like to have the ability to close tabs just by double clicking — you guessed it, Vivaldi can do that as well.
One really neat feature with Vivaldi is its ability to stack tabs on top of one another. You can stack tabs simply by clicking on them and moving them on top of another tab. This will essentially put them all in one tab folder and you can see every tab you have stacked just by hovering your mouse over it:

Screenshot (212)

This is a particularly useful feature to have if prefer to have your tabs loaded on the side of the page instead of on top and it will clear up a lot of space that would have otherwise been clogged up in your tabs bar. Removing tabs from the stack is as simple as right clicking on it and clicking the “Remove from Tab Stack” option.

Vivaldi’s support for gestures is interesting as well, although I just don’t think that I’ll use them on a regular basis. Here’s how they work: If you hold down your mouse’s right button and make a certain gesture, it will perform an action. So for example, holding down the right mouse button and making an “L” gesture will close your current tab. Holding down the button and doing a straight line down, meanwhile, will open up a new tab.
This is the kind of thing that I imagine could be really useful on a multitouch display where you could hold down one finger on the display and make the gesture with another finger. While it’s a cool feature for a keyboard-and-mouse setup, it’s also something that doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to remind myself to do it.

So what are the downsides to Vivaldi? Well, my job involves keeping a lot of tabs open at once and this is where I noticed some lag in Vivaldi’s performance compared with Chrome. It’s nothing major, but once I got more than five tabs open at once, I did notice that pages seemed to load a little more slowly than they normally do on Chrome.

Nonetheless, Vivaldi is a terrific first version of a browser that I’m sure will only get better with time. It’s definitely worth your time to check out and you can download Vivaldi 1.0 at this link.


April 11, 2016

15 Creative Ways to Get The Most Out of Google Hangouts

Written by Briallyn Smith March 28, 2016
Google Hangouts is just one of many programs available that allows you to connect with friends and family through video chat.
Unlike many other video chatting services, Google Hangouts (available on Android, iOS, or as a web app) offers features, communities, and the option for public accessibility that make it useful for creative conversations not only with your existing friends and family, but also with people around the world.
These ten creative ideas for Google Hangouts require nothing more than some organization, a willingness to try new things, and Google Hangouts software, and can be used to enrich your life in all spheres – whether you’re working, relaxing, communicating with family, or trying to pick up a new skill.

What Are the Features You Need to Know About?

In order to understand the uses described below, here’s a quick overview of some of Google Hangouts’ features that you should be familiar with.
  • Google Hangouts On Air – while Google Hangouts is a closed video conversation between you and up to ten people (who must be added via email address), Google Hangouts On Air offers a larger-scale service, where you can broadcast your conversation to anyone with the streaming link. People can interact with your On Air broadcast in real time through text questions.
  • Screen Sharing – You can allow everyone else in the call to see your computer screen, which can be a great tool for sharing presentations, teaching computer skills, or showing off pictures of your pets.
  • Chat – not all of the communicating on Google Hangouts has to happen through voice or video! Messaging options are available for both personal Hangouts and Hangouts on Air, and the transcript can be saved for future use.
  • Security – all communications through Google Hangouts are encrypted, offering you peace of mind when it comes to having sensitive business or personal discussion online.
  • Non-Google+ Users or those without the app can still be involved in Google Hangouts. As long as you have an email address you should be able to access a Hangout through your browser, and to view a Google Hangout on Air, all you should require is the link to the stream.

Google Hangouts for Entertainment

1. Concerts

Several music artists have used Google Hangouts to create a house-concert feel, or played larger shows for fans using Hangouts on Air. From the comfort of your home, you can watch some of your favorite indie artists perform – and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the ten people involved in the video chat portion of the Hangout, you may even be able to interact directly with the musicians you love. Google has facilitated this by providing a “Studio Mode” streaming option, which can help to ensure that audio quality is as high as possible.
If you’re a musician, want to serenade a loved one, or just want to showcase your child’s new piano solo, TechDissected has a great guide for making the most of Google Hangouts On Air.

2. Games Night

All too often people think that video chatting has to be directly related to catching up with someone — but that’s simply not the case! Google Hangouts’ ability to host up to ten people at once makes it a terrific option for hosting a long distance games night with family and friends!
Whether you’re playing an intense tabletop role playing game (RPGs), charades, or even a Hangouts version of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity called Hangouts Against Humanity, Google Hangouts can help you to have fun with the people you want to connect with — you definitely aren’t just limited to small talk.

Google Hangouts for Family and Friends

3. Watch Movies Together

One of the benefits to Google’s integration with YouTube is that you are able to stream YouTube videos directly into your Google Hangout. This can be a great way to enjoy spending some quality time with friends and family, even from far away. After all, nothing says quality time quite like watching funny pet videos with the people you love.

4. Capturing Family Memories

Google Hangouts On Air allows you to save a recorded copy of your Hangout to your YouTube Channel. This offers a great chance to capture important memories with the people you love if you are separated by distance. Whether it’s introducing a new baby to a sibling traveling overseas, having your kids interview their grandparents about what life was like when they were kids, or getting your mom to sing you a family lullaby so that you can learn it yourself, having the ability to record these precious family moments as they happen is invaluable.

Google Hangouts for Creativity

5. Collaborating

Google Drive offers a ton of tools for collaboration, but adding in a real-time voice or video dialogue can help to push that collaboration from efficient to exemplary.
The video above is just one example of how much can be accomplished when Google Hangouts is being used concurrently with Google Docs. If you find yourself needing to collaborate on a web tool with someone else, it’s a great idea to have a Hangout occurring at the same time so that you can easily suggest ideas, improve communication by being able to see and hear the other person’s facial and vocal expressions, and quickly solve any problems as they arise.

6. Crowd Sourcing

If you have plans to launch a new product, why not use Google Hangouts on Air to directly interact with the people who you want to support you? Giving your intended audience or customer base this chance to ask questions, give feedback, and react to your product (no matter what stage it’s at) can be an incredibly valuable process for you as a creator. You get immediate feedback, your supporters get a chance to vocalize any of their questions or concerns, and your product will be much better for it!

Google Hangouts for Work

7. Interviews

Interested in a candidate who lives too far away to physically attend an interview? Google Hangouts are a great way to offer them an interview with your company. Whether it’s a one-on-one interview, or a larger spread of people, this is a great way to ensure that you don’t miss out on a candidate due to geographical inconvenience.

8. Presentations

If you find yourself needing to make a presentation at work to a large number of people, it might be most convenient to schedule a Hangout instead of an in-person meeting. Just like a 3-D meeting, hosting a Hangout (or a Hangout On Air) allows you to take questions from those in the call and share your screen (which can have your slides or important documents featured).
One advantage to presenting through Hangouts on Air is that people do not actually need to be there for the whole time – if their schedule makes it impossible, they can watch a recorded version of the discussion at a later date.

Google Hangouts for Learning

9. Learn a New Language

Just about everyone wishes that they could easily learn another language. Despite the plethora of language learning apps and programs available, there’s nothing better than being able to practice your new language of choice with a native speaker. Google Hangouts are an amazing way to communicate for free with people anywhere in the world, and language learning Google+ communities have taken advantage of this.
Whether you work through an existing community, or simply use Google Hangouts as a tool to connect with a language learning partner you’ve met elsewhere, the real-time language practice will help you to improve your accent and expressions faster than anything else!

10. Join in on a Seminar

Google Hangouts On Air are far superior to a simple YouTube lecture because of the interactive options that they offer. One of the most amazing examples of Hangouts On Air being used is a discussion hosted by NASA in 2013 where they connected astronauts on the International Space Station to two classrooms, a young patient at the Seattle Children’s hospital, and thousands of other viewers around the world for discussion about life in space and working in science.
Not all of these learning opportunities need to be as large in scale as NASA or the White House (which also hosts several Google Hangouts a year) – a quick search can help you to locate smaller Google Hangouts that are happening in your areas of interest. Instead of just being an observer, Google Hangouts gives you the chance to be a part of the discussion when it comes to the issues that you care about.

Google Hangouts for the Classroom

11.  Cultural Exchanges between classrooms

A surprisingly popular use for Google Hangouts has been its role in connecting classrooms across the world. Teachers are making use of their classroom’s technology to connect with other classes and exchange information about culture, share thoughts on books or projects, and to encourage communication and learning between students.
A Google+ community exists solely for this purpose, and is an excellent resource for teachers interested in this kind of exchange.

12. Broadcast Tutorials/Guest Speakers

Other teachers have found Google Hangouts On Air an incredibly effective teaching or tutoring tool. The ability for students to ask questions through a computer can sometimes help to bring more discussion to the forefront, and recordings of these sessions offer students’ a fantastic review opportunity or free learning opportunities for viewers online.
Also, consider hosting a guest speaker via Google Hangouts who otherwise would be unable to meet with your class!

13. School Announcements

Another fun way that Google Hangouts On Air is being used by schools is as a medium for their morning announcements! All classroom teachers need to do is to join the Hangout before the bell goes, and then all classrooms can instantly be connected to a live video feed of that day’s important information.

Google Hangouts for Self-Improvement


14. Meditation/Yoga Classes

While not every kind of exercise class lends itself well to a live feed, meditation and yoga classes can be a great fit for those looking for professional instruction without paying pricey gym fees or taking a large group class. Many yoga instructors are willing to provide instruction through video chat apps like Google Hangouts, and it can be a great way to get expert guidance no matter where you are in the world.

15. Therapy sessions

Providing online therapy sessions is an amazing adaptation that the therapy world has made in the last couple years. While there is something to be said for the physical presence of a therapist, an online version of therapy may be incredibly important for those who travel a lot but want to keep a consistent therapy schedule, those who have severe anxiety surrounding leaving their home, or those who have built a strong relationship with a therapist but then have to move to a new location.
Many therapists now offer this service (or would be open to offering this service) through applications like Google Hangouts for both individual and group therapy sessions.

What Else is Out There?

There are hundreds of Google Hangouts on Air happening at any moment of the day. You can see a list of all the live Hangouts On Air either on YouTube with the #hangoutsonair tag or on – who knows who you will meet or the things you can learn.
These fifteen ideas are really just scratching the surface of all the different ways that you can implement the features and flexibility of Google Hangouts in your everyday life.
What is the most creative way youSource:

April 4, 2016

How much does Google REALLY know about YOU? Here's how to find out

Ever wondered what information Google is holding about you? Here's how to find - and edit - your account information and personal data
Most of us have come to accept the fact that pretty much everything we do online is tracked and recorded.

And as the world's biggest company, Google probably holds more data about us than anyone else - allowing the search giant to provide advertisers with detailed profiles of its users.
But have you ever wondered exactly what Google really knows about you?
In theory, your age, your gender, your interests, your search habits and your location history - along with any information you have included on your Google+ profile - should provide quite a comprehensive portrait.
However, depending on what permissions and access you have given Google at any given time, this picture could have been heavily distorted.
Here's how to find out exactly who Google thinks you are:

Visit your account page

Open a browser and go to your account page by typing into the search bar.

You will need to make sure you are logged into your Google account to do this. If you're not logged in, click on the circle in the top right hand corner of the screen and enter your sign-in details.
Many people don't realise they have a Google account, but if you use any of Google's services - such as Gmail, Hangouts, Drive or Calendar - then use these account credentials to log in.

Which devices have access to your account?

Over the years, you may have logged into your Google account from many devices, so it's worth checking which still ones still have access and removing any you no longer use from the list.
Click the "Sign-in & security" tab and scroll down to "Device activity & notifications". Here it will show you a list of "Recently used devices", with information on when they were last used to access your account.

If there are any devices on the list that you no longer use, click on them and then click the "Remove" button.
This will sign you out of your Google account and any connected apps on that device.
Read more: 79% people are worried about their online privacy and want more control over their personal data

Which apps are connected to your account?

You can also use the "Sign-in & security" tab to keep track of which apps and sites you have approved to connect to your account, and remove ones you no longer use or trust.
Scroll down to the "Connected apps & sites" section and click on "Manage apps" to see which apps are connected to your account.

For any you no longer use, click on them and then click the "Remove" button.
You can also use this section to check which passwords from Chrome and Android are saved with Google Smart Lock, and remove any you no longer use.

What search data does Google hold on me?

Now comes the juicy stuff. If you want to know what search data Google holds on you, go back to your account home page ( and click on "Personal info & privacy".
Scroll down to "Activity controls" and under "Your searches and browsing activity" click "Manage activity".
In the top right hand corner of the "Insights" box, click the arrow next to "last week" and select "all time".

This will give you a chronological list of everything you've searched for on any device, provided you were logged into your Google account at the time.
You can go through and delete specific searches. If you want to stop Google from recording your searches, go back to the "Personal info & privacy" page and under "Activity controls" untoggle "Your searches and browsing activity".
Google warns that pausing this setting will prevent products like Google Now and Google+ from using your web and app activity to improve their suggestions and updates and provide personalised content.

Have your say in the comments below

What does Google know about where I have been?

Many Google apps now use location information to personalise the experience for the user. As a result, Google probably has a fairly good idea where you've been.
If you want to know exactly what location data Google holds on you, go to the "Personal info & privacy" tab, and under "Places you go" click on "Manage activity".
This will bring up a map of where you have been with your signed-in devices, with red dots representing locations you have visited. It may also show your home and work addresses, if you have provided this information.

Clicking on any of the red dots will bring up more information on when you were visited that location, routes you travelled and places you stayed, along with any photos you took along the way.

To delete any of these records, just click on the dustbin icon in the corner of the "Timeline" panel.
You can also prevent Google from recording this information by going back to the "Personal info & privacy" page and untoggling "Places you go".
Once again, Google warned that this limits functionality of some Google products over time, such as Google Maps and Google Now.
Read more: Google accused of spying on children as young as seven via Chromebooks issued to schools

Who does Google think I am?

A good way to find out who Google thinks you are, is to check what information it uses to serve you ads.
You can do this by going back to the "Personal info & privacy" page, scrolling down to Ads settings and clicking "Manage ad settings".
Here you can see what Google has identified as your gender and age, and a list of any interests Google has associated with your profile.

You can edit these interests, if you want to see more relevant ads, or delete them all, if you'd rather Google didn't try to tailor your ad experience.
However, Google says that the ads you see may still be based on your general location (such as city or state) or recent searches.

Download your data

Finally, you can make a copy of the content in your account at any time, and use it for another service or just for your personal records.
Under "Personal info & privacy", scroll down to "Control your content" and under "Download your data" click "Create archive".
This will take you through to a page where you can choose which data to include, and then get a copy emailed to you as a zip file.

Google warns that this may take a long time (hours or possibly days) to create, but that it will email you when the file is ready.