Microsoft will let you keep your free 15GB of OneDrive storage, if you claim it

December 17th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Microsoft has grudgingly agreed to let current OneDrive users keep their 15GB of free cloud storage and 15GB of free Camera Roll “bonus” storage, rather than dropping you to 5GB as previously stated, but only if you’re aware of the offer and don’t mind a bit of spam.


To take advantage of the offer, visit this Microsoft page. Microsoft representatives said the company does not have a supplementary explanatory blog post or statement to add at the present, but they did supply the webpage address, whose URL lists it as a  “preview” at the moment.
You’ve already navigated the first hurdle: since users have to manually opt in to the offer, OneDrive users who are unaware of the deal won’t be able to take advantage of it. And there’s a small catch: by selecting the offer, you agree “to receive promotional emails from OneDrive,” although Microsoft immediately says that you can unsubscribe as well—how to do that, however, isn’t exactly clear.
It appears that unchecking the “promotional email” box, then clicking the “Keep your free storage” button also appears to work. In response to a question from PCWorld, a Microsoft representative said that the wording is being changed to “make it more clear”.
Why this matters: Microsoft’s reputation has climbed of late, as it’s reached out and worked with customers on the development of Windows 10, Office, and even Solitaire. But the end of unlimited OneDrive storage was a real black eye for Microsoft’s outreach efforts, and even the latest offer feels a bit half-hearted. If you want your friends to be able to take advantage of the offer, you’ll need to share it with them.

What’s going on here?

Over 60,000 different users complained about Microsoft’s changes to its OneDrive policy, which also reneged on an earlier deal to supply Office 365 subscribers with unlimited OneDrive storage at a future date. But what users were really unhappy with was Microsoft’s decision to also reduce the amount of free storage from 15GB to 5GB per account, as well as discontinuing the 15GB camera roll storage bonus for mobile users who uploaded their mobile photos to OneDrive. Microsoft’s new offer reverses the latter decision.
Microsoft has apparently maintained the 1TB limit on user accounts, however. In November, Microsoft also said that it is also doing away with the 100GB and 200GB OneDrive paid plans priced at $1.99 and $3.99 per month respectively. Instead, it will roll out 50GB of storage for $1.99 per month in early 2016. Anyone needing more storage than that can get 1TB by signing up for Office 365 Personal for $6.99 per month.

Source: www.pcworld

Search every video-streaming service with Yahoo’s new app

December 15th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Yahoo’s new iOS app will have viewers spending less time searching through streaming apps to find something to watch, and more time actually watching.
The Yahoo Video Guide app is a one-stop-shop for finding movies and TV shows that are streaming on over 30 services. With Yahoo Video Guide, you can search for movies and TV shows to stream on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Instant Video, Showtime, YouTube, Xfinity and other channel apps, as well as rent or purchase movies and TV episodes from services like iTunes, Amazon, and the Google Play Store. If you have the streaming app installed, the Yahoo Video Guide will open it to the specific app movie or episode. If not, it will redirect you to download it from the App Store.


For iOS users with multiple streaming subscriptions, Yahoo Video Guide is the ultimate timesaver. It took less than 30 seconds to discover that the first Hobbit film is available to stream on the TBS app, that we can rent the sequel on Amazon or iTunes, and that the third and final installment is currently streaming on HBO Go. We just had to search for “Hobbit” once, instead of conducting that same search back-and-forth on different apps.
The impact on you: Yahoo Video Guide is very similar to Can I Stream It? but Yahoo’s version is all free. There are mobile banners on the free version of Can I Stream It?, and you have to pay $1.99 for the Pro version that lets you search through just the services you subscribe to. Being able to search through your services is actually a key feature in Yahoo Video Guide. The app creates a personalized guide by finding the streaming apps that you’ve installed on your iPhone. You also have the option to add more services, just in case you have a subscription but for some reason haven’t installed the iOS app.
In order to inject some delight into searching for something to watch, Yahoo Video Guide also incorporates a “MoodPicker.” Using different GIFs you can filter out movies and TV shows by whether they are “Romantic” or “Tense.” This feature is a little funky still, however, because we don’t really see how movies like Birdman or American Beauty can be considered “lighthearted.”


The Tor Project seeks broader public support through a crowdfunding drive

December 5th, 2015 | Edited by | software


Details were sparse, but the company’s said before it wants to expand its hidden services.


Even online anonymity and privacy need a crowd of sorts–crowdfunders, to be specific. The Tor Project recently kicked off a crowdfunding drive, using journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras as an example of the importance of the online anonymity tools.
In a blog post announcing the funding drive, Tor quotes Poitras saying that she never could have worked on and help break the Snowden story without Tor. Poitras worked with Glenn Greenwald on the initial revelations from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. She also directed the Snowden documentary Citizenfour. “Tor is an essential tool that…fosters free speech and independent voices,” she said.
Tor’s blog post on Tuesday didn’t have much in the way of specifics about the new crowdfunding drive or what motivated it. The Tor Project did not respond to a request for comment in time for this story.
Nevertheless, the group did say in March that it wanted to gather more funds from individuals to help make Tor hidden services more widely available. Basically, the group wants to make hidden services easier to use, more secure, and increase the user base for hidden services. “Anything you can build on the Internet, you can build on hidden services,” the non-profit group said in March. “But they’re better…anonymity is built in.”
Hidden services allow users to connect to online products and services such as websites, blogs, forums, and chat clients. The big difference, however, is that the user and the site they are connecting to don’t have to give up identifying information, allowing for a higher degree of anonymity.


How Apple could fix the Mac App Store

December 3rd, 2015 | Edited by | software


A few simple changes—and one major change—could improve the Mac App Store experience for both developers and customers.
Because I recently discussed the tradeoffs involved in selling apps only on the Mac App Store, some are convinced I hate the entire concept of the App Store. That’s not the case, though—I just think the current implementation is flawed and leads to bad experiences for both developers and sellers.
However, with a few simple changes—and one not-so-simple changes—the Mac App Store really could be the place to shop for Mac software, instead of a place where you only find apps that meet Apple’s narrow definition of what an app should be.


The simple changes

The following changes should be relatively easy for Apple to implement, as none involves fundamentally altering the store’s operations. They are, in fact, mostly policy changes as opposed to complex technical changes.

Allow demos

There are no technical reasons Apple couldn’t offer demos. They could issue a license that expires in a given number of days or after a given number of uses. As a user, I know I like to try apps before I buy. As a developer, I want users to try my apps before they buy so they know they’re getting what they want.

Allow refunds

While you can’t get refunds on software you purchase at retail stores, Mac developers have long offered refunds on downloadable software. Panic, BareBones, Smile, and yes, even us at Many Tricks (and probably hundreds more) all have generous refund policies. I can’t speak for the others, but we see less than a 1 percent refund rate, which is an acceptable trade-off for a customer-friendly policy. So why can’t Apple officially offer refunds, too?

Allow paid upgrades

For many independent developers, reduced-cost (but still paid) major-version upgrades are a key revenue source. They’re also a benefit for existing customers, as they save money compared to the full cost of the new app.
For apps we sell in the App Store, we have to either choose to release a major new release for free, or set it up as a new app and list it at a discounted price to simulate upgrade pricing. But by doing this, everyone gets the low price, and prior customers aren’t rewarded for their original purchase.
Apple could easily let developers designate a release as a paid upgrade with its own price, available only to those who already own the app.

Treat the Mac App Store like an equal

If you compare the Mac App Store to the iTunes Store, the Mac App Store is clearly the ignored child. iTunes Store apps can use videos to demonstrate how they work. iTunes Store developers can use Apple’s TestFlight to beta test their apps. iTunes Store apps can implement app analytics to help with marketing and design decisions. The Mac App Store gets none of these tools. Speaking for Many Tricks, we’d use all of these tools if they were available

Allow interaction between developers and users

Pick any app at random on the Mac App Store, and you’ll find a few one-star reviews that have nothing to do with reviewing the software. Here’s one example, taken at random from a selection of many:
”I purchased this app and trying to burn disk with no success. It keeps crashing and it won’t load at all any more. I’ve gone through five discs with no luck.”
This “review” comes, of course, with a one-star rating. But the user isn’t reviewing the software, they’re asking for tech support help. But the app developers have no way to contact this user to solve their problem. The best they can do is leave another “review,” asking the user to get in touch with them. But it’s not a reply to the review, so there’s little chance the user will see it.
Apple could easily solve this problem by letting the registered developer of the app (you’d have to be logged in using the account associated with your app) send a response message to any posted review. Developers wouldn’t see the user’s address, of course, as it’d first be anonymized by Apple. Amazon, eBay, craigslist, and many other sites do something similar when buyers contact sellers; why can’t Apple?
Regardless of the “how,” something should be done: The current system is broken for both users trying to find actual reviews, and for developers trying to provide support.

The harder change

To really make the Mac App Store a vibrant and lively storefront for Mac apps, Apple should find a way to allow non-sandboxed apps, as well as other currently prohibited apps, into the store. “Danger!” you scream? Keep in mind that the Mac App Store was open for over a year without any sandboxing requirements, and the world didn’t end.
In fact, there are still non-sandboxed apps in the App Store today. Of our own Many Tricks’ products in the App Store, only Name Mangler is actually sandboxed. These non-sandboxed apps exist because Apple allowed them to remain (but not gain new features) in the store if they were there when the sandbox rule went into effect (March of 2012). For over three years, then, thousands of people have been buying and installing non-sandboxed apps, to absolutely no ill effect.
I’m not suggesting that Apple removes the sandbox. Rather, there should be some way for shoppers to browse non-sandboxed apps. Why? Because by removing the sandbox restriction, Apple can showcase an entire range of useful applications that users are not seeing today. Programs that rely on inter-application communication, for example. Programs could do more, too, if they were allowed to implement features that weren’t sandboxable.
Beyond the sandbox, Apple needs to let more complex apps into the store. Microsoft Office; virtualization apps like VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop; Adobe’s entire product suite; backup apps like Carbon Copy Cloner and Backblaze; alternative browsers such as Firefox and Google Chrome; text expansion utilities like Typinator, TextExpander, and TypeIt4Me. I could go on, but Dan Counsell of RealMac Software has put together a great list (which is still just the tip of the iceberg).
By keeping these apps out of the App Store, Apple is presenting a limited view of just what the Mac can do. And as the Mac App Store is installed on every new Mac, many users probably don’t know any better and think that what they see is what they can get. That’s not good for users, not good for developers, and in the long run, not good for Apple.But what about the danger, you ask? Every developer in the App Store has to be registered with Apple. They can easily include kill switch functionality that would disable any rogue apps that get through the review process. And yes, every app in the store would still have to go through the review process, and meet Apple’s non-technical requirements for functionality, features, appearance, etc. But the sandbox wouldn’t have to apply, and apps that require extensions or System Preferences panels to run would be welcomed, assuming they passed the rest of the review.
Is this an easy thing for Apple to do? I don’t think so; the implementation details are complex (how would users access these “outside the box” apps? Do they show up in search results?). However, for the good of the platform and the App Store itself, I think it’s critical that the store offer a much broader selection of apps.

The final word

I honestly don’t expect Apple to address every item on this list. I’m not even sure if they’ll address any of them. But for the sake of the store, and its customers and developers, I hope they do implement many of them, at least: In the long run, a much better Mac App Store is better for everyone involved.



How to add any website to Windows 10’s Start menu

December 1st, 2015 | Edited by | software


In Windows 10 you’ve got tons of choices for desktop programs, and apps from the Windows Store can be useful too. But there are still probably a few key webpages you turn to every day instead of a desktop program or modern UI app.
Wouldn’t you love to have those key sites available to you on the Windows 10 Start menu? Here’s how to do that.

The Edge way

Open Microsoft Edge and then navigate to the page you want to add. In the upper right-hand corner, click the three horizontal dots, and then from the drop down menu select Pin this page to Start. A pop-up window will appear asking you to confirm. Click Yes and you’ll find the site at the bottom of the live tile section in your Start menu.
The downside? This method is that links will only open in Edge. Fortunately, there’s a way around that. If you want links to open in your default browser instead of Edge, you have to use a little bit of trickery, but nothing too complicated.


The non-Edge way

Open Internet Explorer and navigate to the webpage you want to add to Start. For our purposes, let’s say it’s Facebook.
Once you’re on Facebook, right-click in an open space on the site and select Create shortcut from the context menu. IE will then show a pop-up window asking if you want to create a desktop shortcut. Click Yes.
To do the same thing in Chrome and Firefox, go to the address bar and click-and-drag the icon to the left of “http,” and drop it on the desktop. The icon will either be a green lock, a rectangular piece of paper, or a globe.
Pro Tip: In my experience, you’ll generally get better looking icons using Internet Explorer for this step.
Next, right-click the desktop icon you just created and select Copy.

Add to Start

Now type “run” into the Cortana/search box. The top choice should be the Run desktop app.
Once Run opens, type in shell:programs, click OK, and an Explorer window will open.
Now just right-click in the main part of that window (be careful not to accidentally open a folder) and select Paste.
Your website is now in Start but it’s buried in the “All apps” list. To remedy this, just click Start > All apps and scroll down to the listing in the alphabetical list. Since we’re doing Facebook we’ll look under “F”.
Once you find it, just click-and-drag it onto the live tiles (right) side of the Start menu and you’re done.
After you’ve added your webpages to Start, feel free to delete your shortcuts from the desktop.
If you’d like to take this a step further and add an entire section of websites to Start, check out our earlier tutorial on
customizing the Windows 10 Start menu. This will teach you how to group tiles together.
The catch with websites using the non-Edge method is you can’t remove them from Start through the right-click context menu. Instead, you have to type shell:programs into Run and then delete the shortcuts in the Explorer window that opens.


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