What is bandwidth throttling? And why should you find a service who avoids it?

What is bandwidth throttling? And why should you find a service who avoids it?

When using the internet, one of the most frustrating problems that you can run into is a poor-quality internet service. You are working away, enjoying your evening streaming, gaming or just reading cool content. You start to notice, though, that your internet starts to produce less and less consistency in its results. Your favorite TV show starts to lag uncontrollably. You start missing clear headshots online in your favorite first-person shooter. Next thing you know, you’re respawning because someone you never have seen coming has popped you in the back of the head.

Sound common? Welcome to the horrible world of bandwidth throttling. If you use an internet service that provides bandwidth throttling, you should really consider an alternative. The prospect of bandwidth throttling can seem horribly draconian. It is, though, a problem that many Americans put up with day-in, day-out. What, though, is ‘bandwidth throttling’ in the first place?

What is bandwidth throttling?

The concept of bandwidth throttling is one designed to limit, basically. It’s an intentional, purposeful slowing down of the amount of bandwidth that you can get access to. It’s used for many purposes, none of them helpful to you, the customer, in any way. It’s a form of speed lowering used by internet service providers that stops your internet speed from reaching its peak potential.

Bandwidth throttling can happen on desktop and mobile devices, across wired connections or wireless via Wi-Fi. It can happen at various points during the connection process from your PC/mobile device to the website or online service that you are using (like an online game or streaming platform).

It’s a system that is used that, really, never benefits you as a consumer. Paying for high-speed internet that does produce consistently high speeds is a massive frustration. It means that you literally cannot access the information that you wish to access as quickly as you could or should.

So, why does bandwidth throttling happen?

As is often the case, the company who offers your internet supply is the clear winner here. They manage to get a lot out of reducing our bandwidth allocation. Doing this at certain periods of time during the day – often the time that you need/want good connectivity the most – helps to reduce server loads. It means that the company is having to invest fewer resources in processing data. The less data you can process at speed, the less they have to process on their end.

This allows the company to have to spend less on servers but also on equipment to manage the internet at the speed you need. Another reason why bandwidth throttling takes place is a lot less wholesome – it’s purely down to cost. If they hit you with a frustrating, evening-ruining throttled speed, you might just upgrade to the next package up – the one that promises less or no throttling.

Those who are using the internet professionally or for most of their entertainment, then, are essentially bullied into paying even more than they should. It’s a common part of the market and a rather unfair practice. It’s become part of the process, and one of the many reasons why US internet service users are watching their monthly costs for the internet go higher, higher and higher. This, naturally, produces negative results long-term.

Why else might my bandwidth get throttled?

Another reason why you might have the frustration of bandwidth throttling is the fact that you are using a service the ISP does not like. This happens when you are picking up data from a platform that the ISP would rather you did not use. Many of these are somewhat legitimate reasons, such as stopping you from using excessive internet speed to download torrents via a peer-to-peer file sharing platform. It will also be used to help reduce the amount of time that you can spend on things like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime. The solution, of course, is to simply spend more. If you want access to the best things that the internet might be able to offer you, you will have to pay a premium fee to your internet provider in terms of going with a higher rate of an internet service contract.

But I thought my internet plan was unlimited?

Sadly, unlimited has become a term of meaningless usage when it comes to an internet service. Many ISPs manage to fit in unwritten rules regarding how much of the internet you can use on that one given day. Artificial limits – which are never made clear – can really impact and inhibit how much you can get out of your day when using the internet.

This is a common frustration. Bandwidth caps are often in the smallest of small print, or not mentioned at all. That can mean that you often see your internet usage throttled and weakened, ruining any potential plans for the evening. At this point, you have two options. You can pay even more for high-speed internet that you should already be getting. Or, you look for an alternative supplier of your internet service. If you cannot find a way to reduce bandwidth throttling with your present plan, it’s time to consider the latter.

Get an internet service who respects your decisions

You have no reason to put up with bandwidth throttling. At Easy Internet Now, you can find a high-speed internet provider who avoids any form of bandwidth throttling. For the reasons that we’ve explained above, you can see why it’s such an unscrupulous, unfair experience. Why should you be punished so heavily?

Don’t allow yourself to be taken for a fool. With an internet service which prioritizes consistency, you can enjoy a far more robust, enjoyable internet experience day-to-day. Don’t put up with second best, and never accept bandwidth throttling. With so many alternate internet providers who make it easy to avoid such practices, you can stay clear of this frustration. If you are someone who wants to help improve their internet usage, you should start here.

How much does internet speed impact on your online gaming prowess?

How much does internet speed impact on your online gaming prowess?

For any online gamer using a high-speed internet service, this story will feel very familiar. You get into a high-stakes battle with an opponent in the game of your choice. After much maneuvering and managing, and a little bit of good fortune along the way, you win. You get the results, the rewards and the ego boost that comes with any hard-fought victory. Then, your chosen game client pings: you have a new message. It’s your vanquished foe, saying that you are a cheat who “throttled his internet” and that you “only won because of lag”.

Sound like an experience you’ve had to laugh your way through before? It’s funny when the shoe is on the other foot. When your internet service throttles performance, or cannot keep up the standard, and you lose out, though, it is infuriating. You feel cheated. All your work and effort ruined by a drop-off in latency, resulting in your lagging internet not allowing you to react.

Internet speed across America is, depending on your internet provider, inconsistent to say the least. Go with a good provider, and you might have nothing to worry about. Choose someone who limits bandwidth, though, and you might just run out of latency at the wrong moment. Does it have the massive impact that so many gamers believe it does, though?

How much does internet speed impact on your gaming prowess on your title(s) of choice?

Slow, throttled internet will always hamper performance

As a gamer, every click can be the one that counts. From sending that sniper shot through the back of an opponent’s skull to sending your troops to ambush the opponent, speed of internet connectivity is no laughing matter. The drawbacks of having slow and poor-quality internet will very quickly begin to shine through.

For example, you’ll often find that your slow internet service will frustrate other gamers. This can make it hard for you to build a good rapport with teammates. If they are always waiting for you to spawn in before the game can start, they’ll get tired of waiting. They might also begin to get tired of your poor performance being put down to lag. Yes, they will be happy to put up with it when it happens from time to time. If you are always last or putting in poor performances due to not being able to react in time, you can soon find yourself out of your gaming circuit unceremoniously.

Fair? Not really. But when other gamers in the server all have smooth performance and your lagging is causing them to lose, you’ll be the one to get the blame. Whether you want to game for fun, for streaming or for competitive payment, good quality internet is essential. You’ll often be kicked from servers – or banned outright – if your internet connection stops others from playing to the highest standard that they possibly can.

Good quality internet allows for the maximum experience

One of the most important parts of playing a game online is that it should feel smooth. This isn’t the turn of the millennium any more: needless lag and latency issues will frustrate. With faster internet that is not locked or throttled, you can play the game much faster. Most maps and games need to download temporary assets before you can log in. With fast internet, you’ll never be the one holding up the rest of the party from starting their game for the evening.

You will also be able to stick around until the end. People being dropped and kicked from servers is depressingly common when they don’t have high-speed internet. If you want a smooth gaming experience where you can forge alliances and make friends, having a smooth internet connection helps. People want to know that they can trust you to be there when the game reaches its crescendo. With high-speed internet, you make that far more likely. Gaming online is a very fun social experience, but people want to know that they can rely upon you to play without dropping off.

You can reduce lagging, glitches and general service issues by having high speed internet. This not only makes it easier for you to perform, but to perform when playing with others. So, if you are serious about gaming online, investing in good high-quality internet that stays up for the whole evening is essential long-term.

Finding good quality, high speed internet for gamers

There are many forms of internet that you should investigate if you are going to be playing games online. Your high-speed internet should first and foremost be from a company that promises no throttling. This lets you to know that you can game to your maximum all night long without hampering the internet performance in-game or for other internet users at home.

You can find that you can get a lot of affordable broadband plans, such as those from Easy Internet Now. This helps you to get online and to enjoy the gaming experience with no latency. Don’t go for something that has speed caps, maximum usage per day or anything like that. Modern gaming is going to burn through even the most generous of caps, so keep that in mind moving forward.

We recommend that you look for high quality, fast paced internet. Anything in the 10mbps range is likely to be good enough, but you should never cap your ambitions. Anything under 4mbps is probably best avoided, though: most online gaming services, like the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft Xbox LIVE, will often run poorly outside of this.

Keep that in mind, as it will likely inform a large part of your decision-making process moving forward. The best gaming experiences online, though, will always be served well with faster internet. So, if you are sick of always coming last due to lag, or being the scapegoat for slow game loading times, consider a faster internet plan. Don’t let yourself be the one to let the team down!

Find a Job Using the Web

Find a Job Using the Web

Finding a job can seem difficult these days. There’s a lot to consider during a job search, especially if you’re looking for jobs that ask for resumes and cover letters, require a clean online presence, and have a lengthy vetting process.

For a long time now, job search sites have been growing online. Popular sites like Monster have been heavily advertised, offering job searchers access to listings from employers. However, some aspects of looking for a job online can seem daunting or confusing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at just some of the help you can find online. If you’re looking for a new job, these ideas should get you started on your path!

What can you find online?

The answer is, of course, pretty much everything. Whatever your job search entails, you can almost certainly find resources online. Job search sites like Monster and Indeed are well-known, but there are other services that do important things, as well. You can find resources for the following (and more):

  • Figuring out which job is right for you
  • Finding job listings
  • Creating resumes and cover letters
  • Maintaining your online presence
  • Preparing for interviews

Find the right job

When starting a job search, you might feel a little lost. What kind of job should you look for? Maybe you haven’t had many jobs, or maybe you want to leave your current job because you realized you were in the wrong field. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you start looking.

The following sites are just two options you can try out. Both will help you figure out what kind of job might be best suited for you specifically.

O*NET Interest Profiler—The O*NET Interest Profile on the My Next Move website can take your responses to their survey and match you with the jobs that you’ll be most likely to succeed at. You’ll be asked about certain activities and how you feel about doing them, then given suggestions for career paths.

Time.com—Time’s website can help you figure out which job best fits your personality and interests. After you’ve taken their quiz, you’ll be presented with the job that suits you the most. It chooses from almost a thousand possible job choices.

Search for open positions

If you know what you want to do, or if you’re open to just about any job, there are plenty of sites out there that have a vast array of job listings. Many listings even let you apply right on the job search site. Here are some of the popular sites used to find available jobs!

CareerBuilder—With this site, you can find jobs using things like certain skills, location, and salary. You can create a CareerBuilder resume and apply to some jobs right through the website.

Glassdoor—Glassdoor is perhaps best known for its extensive database of business reviews. However, you can also search for job openings. You can filter results by things like keyword, location, and salary range. Once you’ve found a job you’d like, you can look at Glassdoor’s reviews from past employees.

Indeed—This is one of the most popular job search sites today. With Indeed, you can search for jobs by keyword, experience level, location, and more. You can create an Indeed Resume and apply for some jobs through Indeed. You can also get notifications when more jobs are added with the keywords you’ve searched for.

Monster—This site is one of the most well-known in the job search field. You can search for jobs by keyword, experience level, location, and more. You can also find career search tips, business reviews, and more.

Polish your resumes and cover letters

Once you’ve found the jobs you’re interested in, it’s time to apply. Some jobs simply ask you to fill out an application and perhaps take an online assessment. However, many jobs ask for resumes and, less frequently, cover letters. These are an important part of how you present yourself to a future employer. It’s not enough to create one resume and use it over and over for every job.

To make sure you’re creating the right resume and cover letter, take a look at these sites!

CareerOneStop—This site offers a number of resources for building and perfecting a resume. You can find out how to plan your resume, write it, format it, and more. You can also find out how to get connected to face-to-face resources for resume writing.

Monster—This site is, as mentioned above, a popular site for finding jobs. However, you can also get help with your resume on Monster. You can upload your resume, and after about two days, you’ll get the results of Monster’s assessment of the document. (They use scanning technology to assess resumes, not real people.) You can also pay to have an actual person work on your resume and cover letter. If you’d rather not pay, you can also look through Monster’s resume tips.

The National Resume Writers’ Association—Using the NRWA’s website, you can search for professional resume writers near you. Some of them are certified by the association, making them even more trustworthy. Be sure, though, to carefully research and consider someone before hiring them to help you with your resume.

Maintain your online presence

Depending on the job you’re in the market for, your online presence might be something important to consider. With some employers, it looks better if you have a profile on professional networking sites. And when it comes to the rest of your information, you may need to keep watch on what employers might find if they search for you. As you’re applying to jobs, you should find out how to keep your online appearance professional and free of any red flags (like old Facebook posts that cast you in a bad light).

The following sites can help you set up and maintain a clean online presence!

BrandYourself—This service searches you online and figures out what might give potential employers second thoughts about hiring you. It finds search results, social media posts, and more.

Consumer Reports—If you don’t want to have someone else fix your online appearance for you, you can find tips on the Consumer Reports website. This article details, step-by-step, how to find your search results, clean out your social media profiles, and more. The process may be somewhat tedious, but their tips are solid and could help you look better during your job search.

Linkedin—Linkedin is probably the most commonly used professional profile site. You can add a lot of relevant information to your profile, like your job history, skills, resume, certifications, and more. You can connect with others in your field, get updates about job openings, share articles, and just connect with the business world.

Prepare for interviews

Once you’ve applied to your (many, many) potential jobs, you’ll start setting up interviews with potential employers. Even if you’ve interviewed before, you should always dust off your skills and make sure you’re up to date with current interview practices. Here are just some ways you can get ready for an interview!

LinkedIn ProFinder—Linkedin doesn’t just let you find jobs. You can also get connected with someone who can help you practice and perfect your interview technique. Answer some quick questions about what you’re looking for, then make your “Project” go live. You’ll be connected with someone who can help as soon as someone matches your preferences.

Princeton—The Princeton website has a great section all about getting ready for your big interview. They offer an interview prep plan, a list of common interview questions, details on what you should wear to interviews, and more. They also go over what you should do after you’ve gone to an interview.

Webpass, Owned by Google Fiber, No Longer in Boston

Webpass, Owned by Google Fiber, No Longer in Boston

Google Fiber appears to be slowing its progress as its Webpass service has suddenly left Boston.

Webpass, which was bought by Google Fiber back in 2016, is now no longer taking in new customers in Boston, according to the Verge, as Webpass “winds down” in the area. The Webpass service was only offered in apartments and condos.

This news comes after a long stretch of reports about Google Fiber’s slowing expansion. As far back as 2016, NPR reported that Google Fiber would not be expanding to any more cities, staying only in the areas it had already been released. At this point, there was already talk about Google Fiber’s struggles with cost issues and lofty goals. Then in March of last year, installations were cancelled in Kansas City (Google Fiber’s first location). Now, articles like the most recent from The Verge suggest Google Fiber really is slowing its expansion dramatically—even going backwards, dropping to one fewer city.

Google Fiber, as you may know, is Google’s effort to release extremely fast and affordable internet that competes with the big providers. It offers speeds of up to a thousand megabits per second, no rental fees, and low pricing for some. When it was initially promoted and then released, it generated a lot of news and excitement from the people in cities that would potentially get access.

However, Google Fiber has also been in the news more recently for not so great reasons. Aside from reports of a slow in the service’s growth, other stories have made the rounds. In January of this year, Fiber’s vice president of communications and policy left Fiber to move over to Niantic (most well-known for Pokemon Go).

The news about Webpass’ exit from Boston is not the kind of news Google Fiber’s potential future customers want to hear. However, The Verge does note that the other seven Webpass cities likely have nothing to worry about, as there don’t seem to be plans to pull out of other cities at this time.

Mobile Internet Can’t Replace Home Internet, Says FCC

Mobile Internet Can’t Replace Home Internet, Says FCC

The FCC has released information about the draft of their Broadband Progress Report. Based on the FCC’s information, they are now saying the mobile internet can’t fully replace access to home internet service.

According to Ars Technica, the FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, has said mobile internet access isn’t enough. This comes despite the fact that the FCC said last year that it was possible Americans didn’t necessarily need home internet and that mobile might be adequate. The FCC’s fact sheet and statement also discuss topics concerning the recently repealed net neutrality rules. Specifically, the releases go over some information on whether broadband services are reaching people quickly enough.

Whether mobile services can replace home internet has been a subject of discussion for a long while. With mobile carriers offering faster speeds than before as the years pass, people have often questioned whether they actually need a home internet connection. Mobile hotspots have added to this debate—with some mobile services or devices, many people have access to wi-fi hotspots they can connect their devices to. That way they don’t just have to stick to using their mobile connection on their phones.

But even before the FCC’s notes about mobile and home internet, it has been questionable whether a mobile service was really enough. Speeds often aren’t up to par with a home internet connection. Also, with many services, there may be no cap on data usage, but speed throttling can still occur. This means once a certain amount of data is used each month, it’s possible the mobile service speeds could be deprioritized and potentially become slower.

In addition, there isn’t a speed standard for mobile internet set by the FCC, as Ars Technica mentions. Though it had been discussed in the past, there’s no speed standard for mobile carriers to meet. On the other hand, with home internet service, the FCC has set a standard for speeds of 25Mbps.

It’s important to note the actual report from the FCC hasn’t been released—instead, a fact sheet and a statement have been released. To learn more about the FCC’s report, you can read their fact sheet and Chairman Pai’s statement about the report.

9 Subreddits That Prove You Should Be on Reddit

9 Subreddits That Prove You Should Be on Reddit

In the past, Reddit has seemed to some people like a confusing or inaccessible place on the web. There’s a little bit of an impression that it’s not really for everyone. But the truth is, Reddit is filled with all different kinds of content.

What is Reddit?

Reddit is a website that has multitudes of different online communities for people to join or follow. The different sections on Reddit are called subreddits. There are subreddits for all sorts of different things, like nature, music, television, film. You can follow more adult subreddits, or you can keep it PG—you have many options.

Redditors (people with a free Reddit account) can subscribe to whichever subreddits they’re interested in. Then when they come back to the site, they can either visit those subreddits individually, or they can scroll through their home feed that compiles posts from all the different subreddits they’ve chosen.

When you see a post, you can, of course, leave a comment on the post. You can also reply to other Redditors’ comments, and you can upvote or downvote a post or a comment. Upvoting means you liked it, while downvoting means you didn’t. If a comment is downvoted enough, it will likely be removed.

Subreddits to get you started

If you want to find interesting content on the web, Reddit is the place to be. There’s really something for everybody. And on that note, in this article, I’m going to go over 9 popular and/or interesting subreddits you might want to start out with!

Keep in mind, reddit metrics shows that there are currently over 1.2 million subreddits. That’s a lot to choose from. If you don’t see anything here that gets your attention, just search for your favorite topics!

AskScience

What it’s about: AskScience focuses on answering science-related questions. You can use this subreddit to ask a question, look through previously answered questions, or answer a question yourself (if you have sources and research to back up your answer).
Activity: AskScience has 15,020,978 readers right now. There are quite a few posts every single day. Some of the posts have hundreds of comments on them.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Are the shadows of other planets cast onto earth, similar to that of an eclipse?”
  • “Which fundamental force does dark energy use?”

EarthPorn

What it’s about: EarthPorn is, despite its name, a completely safe-for-work subreddit that centers on landscape photography. Only photos are allowed—not other artwork. Also, it must be only of a landscape. There can’t be people or man-made objects in the pictures.
Activity: EarthPorn has 14,688,608 subscribers at the time of writing this article. There are plenty of posts on a daily basis. Posts might have a couple comments or even more than a thousand.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “A beautifully clear piece of ice on Iceland’s Diamond Beach”
  • “Solitude in snowy woodland in Norway”

InternetIsBeautiful

What it’s about: InternetIsBeautiful is built around sharing and appreciating websites that are unique, interesting, or downright pretty. Redditors are not allowed to post about websites everyone will likely already know or websites that might be malicious. Only websites that offer something cool or unique or that are beautifully designed can be shared.
Activity: InternetIsBeautiful has 12,797,499 subscribers at the moment. Posts are more sporadic; there are not usually daily posts. However, when something is posted, it might receive hundreds of comments, sometimes even getting more than a thousand comments.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Find all the quirky places along your road trip”
  • “A website that lets you control robots LIVE with cameras!”

ListenToThis

What it’s about: ListenToThis is all about finding new music that you probably haven’t ever heard before. Mainstream artists, or artists that people post about often, aren’t allowed to be posted about. Instead, Redditors are invited to share music by artists that aren’t as well known or appreciated as they maybe should be.
Activity: ListenToThis has 12,625,636 subscribers right now. There are a lot of posts every day. In fact, as I write this article, I tried to count how many posts had been made in the past 24 hours, and I stopped after a few dozen. Most posts typically seem to get just a few comments, but some get hundreds of responses.
Some popular and recent post titles: Post titles might not be helpful in describing this subreddit. Instead, here are some of the genres listed in recent titles!

  • “Space Rock / Alternative”
  • “Jazz Funk”
  • “Gothic Country/Folk”
  • “Electro Swing”

MildlyInteresting

What it’s about: MildlyInteresting encourages posts with content that is, as you might guess, mildly interesting. This subreddit doesn’t intend to go for shock value or insanely interesting facts. Instead, Redditors share things that are…kinda interesting. It has more laid-back, chill content that isn’t relying on clickbait.
Activity: MildlyInteresting has 13,708,595 as I write this article. There are usually numerous posts every day. Some posts have a few responses, some have hundreds, and some have thousands.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “The Chicago river melted and refroze to create this mosaic”
  • “These crayon candles all have different coloured flames.”

NotTheOnion

What it’s about: NotTheOnion is all about sharing news articles that sound fake but that are actually real. They might sound like titles from a satire site, but they’re not. Fair warning: some of the posts are about news articles with serious or adult content. However, most of the posts are simply weird or eyebrow-raising. If you don’t mind some slightly not-safe-for-work article titles showing up in your home feed, and if you want to read some strange or out-of-the-ordinary news, this subreddit is for you.
Activity: NotTheOnion has 12,927,090 subscribers at the moment. A good number of articles are posted each day. Some posts just have a handful of comments, but posts can gain in popularity quickly if the article is strange or entertaining enough—in fact, a very recent post has already received over seven thousand comments.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Dude, you’ve got a snake in your car: Note left for driver”
  • “Pennsylvanians asked to eat roadkill 3,300 times in 2017”

OldSchoolCool

What it’s about: OldSchoolCool is all about photos and videos of cool folks from the past. Old-school images or videos are posted, with people looking vintage and awesome.
Activity: OldSchoolCool has 12,457,327 subscribers right now. There are multiple posts to check out every day. Posts have a chance of receiving hundreds or even thousands of comments, though most receive much fewer.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Mark Twain holding his pet kitten (1909)”
  • “A portrait of my grandpa (1950s)”

TalesFromRetail

What it’s about: TalesFromRetail is a place to write, read, and respond to posts about life working in retail. You can find posts about co-workers or customers. Some posts are very brief, while some are extended encounters or discussions. If you have a story from retail or want to read other peoples’, this is the place for it.
Activity: TalesFromRetail has 402,660 subscribers right now. Redditors post here every day. Depending on how wild or relatable the story is, a post could get hundreds of comments.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Lady, we don’t sell that here!”
  • “I run a store, not a daycare”

WritingPrompts

What it’s about: WritingPrompts is a subreddit for writers and readers. People are encouraged to post writing prompts. Then Redditors respond with their own short stories that meet the prompt. This is a great subreddit for people looking to keep active with their writing, but it’s also fun to read peoples’ responses to the prompts.
Activity: WritingPrompts has 11,954,383 subscribers at the moment. There are plenty of prompts to choose from each day. A lot of prompts get a handful or maybe a few dozen comments. But if the prompt is inspiring enough, it could get hundreds of responses.
Some popular and recent post titles:

  • “Your dog is secretly a high ranking member of the canine mafia. Their rival, the feline triads, have put a price on your head.”
  • “You buy an old saw from a pawn shop. You discover instead of cutting wood, it cuts reality.”

(Featured image: Reddit on Facebook)

Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

Internet 101: Customizing Your Browser

There may be more ways to customize your browser than you think. If you’ve never really looked into what your browser can do, you might not even know what options you have. Fortunately, most popular browsers can have really cool capabilities once you personalize them. If you find some aspect of your browser inconvenient, it’s possible there’s a way to get rid of those irritations. Even if you think your browser is fine the way it is, you could be missing out on some cool little tricks that change the browsing experience.

In this week’s Internet 101, let’s talk about how customization works and what you might want to add to your browser!

Why you might customize your browser

You might feel like your browser does everything you need it to do—and of course, that’s possible. But browsers are able to be customized for a reason, and one size doesn’t always fit all with browsers.

Your browser’s default settings can really just be a starting point. Depending on what you like, what annoys you, or what you really need, you can likely tweak your browser to make things simpler and more fun.

Here are just a few reasons you might customize your browser:

  • Accessibility needs
  • Aesthetics
  • Privacy concerns
  • Website annoyances
  • Convenience

How do you customize your browser?

Customization works differently depending on which browser you’re using. Since we’re keeping it simple, I’ll just mention that some more experienced tech-minded people might customize their browser by hacking it or by essentially building their own. But for the purposes of this article, let’s stick to the much easier options.

Options, preferences, or settings

Every browser will have preferences or settings of some kind. These options are built-in to the browser. You don’t have to download anything new or go searching for specific tools that you need to add.

Depending on which browser you have, these options might be fairly basic or surprisingly complex. If there are a lot of options, don’t get overwhelmed—just scan through for words or terms you recognize, and try to avoid changing any options that you don’t really understand. Otherwise it could be a hassle to go back and figure out what has been changed!

Extensions or add-ons

Extensions or add-ons are a different way to customize your browser. If your browser has these available (and it very likely does), you can install them to open up even more options. They’re not pre-installed, so you will typically have to search or browse through all the offerings to find what you want.

What can you customize?

There are many different ways to customize most browsers. Of course, some browsers are much more able to be customized than others. And don’t forget, this is just a brief overview of some popular or particularly interesting things to consider. You can do many more things than listed here—browse through your browser’s settings to see if there’s more that interests you! Also, if you use Opera Browser, don’t forget you can use Install Chrome Extensions, and if you use Vivaldi, you can install Chrome extensions by following Vivaldi’s instructions.

(Note: As of writing this article, Safari’s extensions gallery was not accessible. Once it’s able to be viewed, this article may be edited to include Safari options.)

Look through built-in accessibility options

Most browsers will have these options built in to their settings or preferences. You can find change things like font size, use of color, and more.

Make images easier to see

You might want an extension that works with images. To make it easier to zoom in on images, check out Hover Zoom for Chrome or Zoom Image for Firefox.

Work with language tools

There are a lot of things you can do with language extensions. There are a few extensions you should definitely consider adding.

To quickly translate while on the web, take a look at ImTranslator for Chrome, Mate Translate for Firefox, Mate Translate for Microsoft Edge, or Mate Translate for Opera.

To look up a word or check your grammar, try out Google Dictionary for Chrome, Grammar Checker for Firefox, or Grammarly for Microsoft Edge.

Save things for later

Sure, you can bookmark things for later, but some tools are even better than bookmarks. Take a look at some extensions that make it easier to save content for later.

If you want to save things for access from multiple devices, look at Google Keep for Chrome, Save to Google Drive for Chrome, OneNote Web Clipper for Firefox, Evernote Web Clipper for Microsoft Edge, Save to Pocket for Microsoft Edge, or Pocket for Opera.

Cut back on space and time

Some extensions will help use less data, which can save time, or change how your browser works so your browser just moves more quickly. Here are a few ways you can speed your browser up and save space while you’re at it.

To save space by optimizing or compressing the webpages you visit, check out Data Saver for Chrome or Data saver proxy for Firefox.

To speed your browser up by blocking websites from using trackers, try Ghostery for Microsoft Edge.

Get rid of annoyances

There are many, many things about browsing websites that can be unbelievably irritating. There are two offenders that are perhaps worse than the others.

To block ads in your browser, look into Adblock Plus for Chrome, AdBlocker Ultimate for Firefox, Adguard AdBlocker for Microsoft Edge, or Opera Ad Blocker for Opera.

To stop some videos from playing automatically (but, unfortunately, not all of them), consider adding HTML5 Video Autoplay Blocker for Chrome or Disable HTML5 Autoplay for Firefox.

Change the visuals

Your experience with your browser could completely change just by changing the browser’s appearance. It can be lovely to make a browser look more like your own style, and it’s helpful to set things up in a way that makes sense to you. Here are just a few ways to do that.

To change the colors or images displayed on your browser, look to see if the browser supports themes. You can browse themes or wallpapers for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi. If you don’t use these browsers, yours might still have themes available. You can often find out by looking in your browser’s settings or preferences.

To rearrange your tabs, take a look at OneTab for Chrome or Tile Tabs for Firefox.

To make your browser’s tabs pretty, check out Dream Afar New Tab for Chrome or ColorfulTabs for Firefox.

Have some fun

There are, of course, quite a few extensions or add-ons you can use to do fun, random, or just very specific things. Below are some popular ways you might use your browser extensions for fun.

To capture (or possibly record) your screen, try out Screencastify for Chrome, Nimbus Screen Capture for Firefox, or Nimbus Screen Capture for Opera.

To easily use GIFs, GIPHY is the way to go—find their extension on Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

To get a little more creative, take a look at Sumo Paint for Chrome, SketchPad for Chrome, or Web Paint for Firefox.

Finally (and very importantly), to add emojis (or even Bitmojis!) to your messages and posts, check out Bitmoji for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Chrome, Emoji Keyboard for Firefox, or Emoji Keyboard for Opera.

Dancing Hot Dogs and Other Internet-Themed Costumes

Dancing Hot Dogs and Other Internet-Themed Costumes

If you want to wear a Halloween costume this year that represents your love of memes and the internet, you’re in luck. Snap, who offers Snapchat, recently released a dancing hot dog costume based on their popular Snapchat video filter. You can buy the costume on Amazon for $79.99, which seems a fair price for a costume that the description claims is “Made of 100% beef, but never starts it!” and that features “Fresh new flavor.”

If the dancing hot dog from Snapchat isn’t really your favorite bit of internet culture, you do have other options this Halloween. Here are some other costumes that can show how much you love being online:

Emojis

If you use a lot of emojis, you might want to dress as one. You have a lot of options, but here’s just one: Spirit Halloween’s emoji costumes. There are a few choices—for instance, you might want the laughing emoji costume, the poop emoji costume, or the puking rainbow emoji costume. There are child and adult sizes, so if the whole family loves emojis, there’s something for everyone.

Animal Memes

Animal-meme-lovers have some masks to choose from. You might want to dress up as Grumpy Cat with this mask. The rest of the costume is up to you. The same goes for this Doge mask. Both products show the models wearing t-shirts with the masks, but I’m sure you could create a full costume to go with the mask.

Popular Sites and Products

You might want to dress up as something less expected than a cat meme or popular emoji. In that case, you could wear a “Youbook” costume. You can show up to a Halloween party dressed like a social media profile mimicking Facebook. You could also choose to dress up like Twitter. Instead of being a Tweet or a profile, you could dress as the Twitter bird. If you’d rather not dress as a specific social media platform, you have the option of dressing like a smartphone with this dress.

T-Shirts

You might be one of those people who doesn’t like to wear actual costumes. If you’re the person who wears normal clothing to Halloween parties and says you’re dressed up as yourself, consider trying a Halloween costume-themed t-shirt. For instance, you could wear this shirt that says “Error 404: costume not found.” Or, just as fun, you might wear this shirt that claims it is your “human costume” (you’re not really a human—you’re a unicorn). You might not get credit for putting together an actual costume, but at least it’s something.

Remembering AOL Instant Messenger

Remembering AOL Instant Messenger

Recently it was announced that AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) would be shutting down in December of this year. This news has taken the internet by storm. AIM was huge in the 90s and part of the 2000s, and many people online now were frequent users of the popular chat program. Even though it’s been largely abandoned by most of us for years, replaced with more modern chat apps, many people (myself included) feel a bit sad at the idea of AIM ending forever. Just for fun, let’s take a look back and remember some of the things you might have encountered if you used AIM when you were young (or at least younger).

Screen Names

Oh, AIM screen names. Screen names back in the day were a lot of fun at the time, though they might seem a little embarrassing now. I’m not sure where all the x’s and numbers came from—maybe necessity, since so many usernames were taken—but they kept things interesting (and harder to read). You might have seen screen names with two x’s at the beginning and end (xxEMOGIRLxx, for example), or 0’s instead of o’s, or mIxEd Up CaPiTaLiZaTiOn, or even better, all three at once (xXeM0gIrLxX?). I don’t know about you, but I found it a little difficult sometimes to tell who had signed on since the screen names were such fun, jumbled messes.

Buddy Icons

Buddy icons were a fun way to further personalize our profiles. The tiny, often-pixelated pictures were changed often on my friends’ profiles (and I think I changed mine about once a week). It was particularly fun to find animated icons. (Animated icons! They moved! Who knew pictures could do that.)

SmarterChild

I know I’m not the only one who was good friends with SmarterChild. In case you’ve forgotten your BFF, SmarterChild was a ‘bot that could automatically reply to your messages. You could ask questions, play games, get the weather, find movie times, and just chit chat. I remember being amazed and impressed at the way SmarterChild could actually talk to me. With “people” like Siri and Alexa available today, SmarterChild can seem really outdated in hindsight. But the bot was pretty groundbreaking at the time and was great fun to hang out with when no one else was online at 4am.

Extensive Profiles

If you used AIM a lot back in its earlier days, you might have had a crazy profile like my friends and I all did. We all liked to put our basic information (a/s/l), stuff we liked, who our friends were, etc. And for some reason, we all felt like we couldn’t make our profiles long enough, so we started using the SubProfile website. We could add a link to our profile that led to our SubProfile with even more information. It seemed like we spent as much time building our SubProfiles as we did actually talking to each other.

Ridiculous Away Messages

It’s possible that our away messages were sillier than our profiles. Typically, away messages added by young people on AIM didn’t give any indication about where the person was or what they were doing. They were almost never useful or informative, it seemed. Instead we would focus on putting bright background colors with clashing (sometimes unreadable) text, lyrics from songs that we thought were deep, and quotes from our friends (for some reason a lot of us thought it made us look cooler). Oh, and you might have had a lot of fun adding the code into your away message that would display the screen name of whoever was reading it, which made it seem like the message was personalized to them.

Friendships

However silly it may have been sometimes, AIM gave a lot of people some good memories of chatting with their friends. Even if you didn’t really get involved with the crazy stuff mentioned above, you probably had a good time catching up with friends, some of whom you might not have ever met in person. Even though we have plenty of chat apps we can use today, we’ll miss you, AIM.

(Featured image: Business Insider)

Keeping Up With Internet Scams

Keeping Up With Internet Scams

The web offers a lot of great things, but one offering that hasn’t changed over the years is its never-ending supply of scams. The internet is just one of many ways to communicate, so like phone and mail scams, internet scams are an easy way for scammers to steal information or money. Some scammers get inventive and come up with new ways to rip people off, while others stick to tried and true methods.

One new scam was just announced by the IRS: scammers are sending emails saying they’re from “e-Services Registration” and are attempting to get e-Services users to “sign a new agreement.” (e-Services is a set of tools that can be used to file tax information with the IRS.) The agreement is a fake, and the scammers are simply trying to steal log-in information and other data.

Another recent scam focuses on a popular use for the web—purchasing pets. Many people use the internet to try to find a new companion animal, and in a lot of cases, this system works well. Unfortunately, though, the Better Business Bureau recently warned that pet sales are a new way for scammers to steal your money. Scammers might post about a puppy for sale, take your money, and then never bring your puppy to you. A large number of people have already been taken in by this scam.

New scams aren’t the only ones to watch out for. Some old scams just won’t go away, and it might be difficult to remember what they all are. One old scam to watch out for involves finding “the one.” Scammers will create false profiles in order to draw someone into a relationship and potentially get them to fall in love. The scammer will say they really want to meet, but unfortunately, they need the money for a ticket to fly where you are. They might also need money for other things, like utility bills or rent. They won’t come to meet you—they’ll just take your money. There are other older scams still out there, too, like Craigslist scams, the friend-in-trouble scam (someone posing as a friend who was mugged, hurt, etc. and needs money wired to them), and fake computer infection scams. These are just a few of the ways scammers still manage to con people.

It’s important to remember that while the internet can be a wonderful place, it’s also an avenue for scams. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you should certainly be wary of anything that asks for your personal information, asks you to click on a link that doesn’t look legitimate, or requires that you send money. You can always Google an email you receive that looks suspicious, and you can look up whether certain companies actually do send emails asking for certain personal information. It’s also really helpful to keep up with what’s going on in the world of scams. Some useful websites to consider are linked below:

Keeping up with current scams can help you stay alert to new scamming attempts you might see on the internet. If you keep aware of internet safety, you should be able to avoid being a scammer’s next victim.