PS Plus has in the last 6 months taken a huge hit. Sony has not only increased the cost of PS Plus they are now going to reduce the number of free games that you get with your annual subscription to only PS4 Titles. Continue reading “PS Plus to drop PS3 and PS Vita Games”
Google announced last week that it would incorporate an Adblock feature as default into its browser Google Chrome to block any advert that doesn’t meet the advertising standards. Having used an Adblock of some kind for many years I wondered just what it would be like now Google had added Adblock functionality as part of the base browser. Continue reading “Using Google Chrome with no Adblock is it manageable?”
Google last week announced that they were going to enable AD Blocking as standard as part of Google Chrome. This is to try and clean up the Internet and make advertisements adhere to the new standards that have been set. Google’s Statement Building a better web for everyone is their statement and has information on the standards there too.
Now Google of late when Ads have been concerned has made quite a storm with their changes to the requirements for your YouTube channel to be monetizing, Total Reach was a channel that got cut. While this wasn’t a surprise and I hadn’t been that active with the channel in the last few months it led me to wonder why they were doing this. The reason is the amount of money in the pot is getting smaller or the number of people taking out of the pot is getting more and they want to protect their big money channels.
This makes perfect business sense but the announcement was saying how they are doing it to make sure that advertisements run on high quality videos, or non fake producers. This is what I didn’t like about the changes because it saying that content that smaller producers that put just as much time into their content but doesn’t have the following other people have videos aren’t good enough. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you though right?
That in mind I decided that I need to start putting more content together so I came to this blog to find out they had pulled support for their plugin to help you put ads easily into your site. While I have the no how to manually put the Google Adsense into my site, it just shows how Google aren’t supporting the little guy like they tend to try and do. With that I’ve pulled all ads from this site being well under the threshold I am going to be leaving the revenue I had made in limbo, as to be honest Total Reach the blog and YouTube channel has only ever made one threshold in 8 years or thereabouts.
Ad Blocking as default in Google Chrome is it a good idea?
I do like the concept and I do like the direction that it’s going in. That said I hope that Google do use it only to block adverts that don’t meet standards and doesn’t turn into away of blocking the competition. Moving forward however I’ve removed my ad blocker and now surfing with only what Chrome blocks and have found that there is a wide range of ads still getting through but they aren’t as intrusive as I remember them but I have used adblock plus or UBlock Origin for many years.
How do you feel about Google’s changes to YouTube Monetization and Chrome having a built in Adblock?
Grammarly is a service in which helps people with their Spelling and Grammar, which is nothing new but what is different is it has a Web Browser plugin. Suffering from dyslexia it does provide some obstacles when producing documents and blog posts, so when a friend of mine mentioned Grammarly I thought that I would give it ago.
What makes this different to other programs and services I have used in the past is that as far as I have seen if there is a text input in a web browser then it works. I must admit I haven’t tested that extensively, but it seems to work with Twitch, Facebook, Google Mail and WordPress. Being across all these platforms is a godsend to me as we know that all the main browsers have spell checkers but they don’t go that extra and check your grammar.
You can produce documents in their own website you really want and it does load into it if you click on to fix issues, but it doesn’t seem to store it on their server even though you do have option to store documents there. The major bugbear of the service is that you have to sign up for the service which isn’t a huge problem, but a number of emails I have had from them is unbelievable. They are pushing their premium service, as the free version only gives you basic rules of grammar but I have found that enough in my case. The premium service works out with a 20% discount $139 a year and me that seems a little expensive for my needs, not that I wouldn’t recommend paying for this awesome service and paying for it if you’re a professional writer. However where I am at with my writing and work I have no need for the extra and can’t warrant paying such a high amount for the service. The Premium Service also adds other features such as Plagiarism and will just enhance people’s blogs and writing in the public environment.
Overall I would give the service a 9/10 and a must pick up for anyone that does a lot of writing. As the free service and even the paid service if you’re in the professional environment. However if your not going to go premium you are probably better off signing up with an email that is used for the newsletters and emails where you might not be sure about giving out your email because you need to be prepared for marketing mail.
The little village I live in has finally had fibre enabled and I have to say that I was over the moon being a heavy internet user. The biggest problem was my current ISP they were offering amazing deals but only to new customers. I had multiple discussions with BT only to find that they couldn’t offer anywhere near the new deals they offer customers. Sat here at my desk extremely annoyed with the fact that new customers were getting Fibre for the same price that I was paying for normal ADSL being £27 a month and best they could do for me was £39.99 over 18 months.
This was really annoying for me because you would have thought being a loyal customer might actually mean something to them, based on the phone line has never been with anyone else and the broadband had to have been with them for about six years or more. The excuse that the advisor made as a new customer back then you would of had the best deals and that showed how much he did know because in actual fact I was paying more when I first joined and then over the years I have managed to get it down to a more respectable price. I think when we first started with BT as a broadband provider it was £25 a month just for the broadband, not including any calling plan and line rental. So with all this I decided to look around for a better deal and Sky being second biggest provider in the UK and offering my current deal with BT but on Fibre for £30.40 a month over 12 months it was a no brainer.
That said though I wanted to give BT a chance, being the loyal person I am and it turned out they couldn’t even offer me the original deal they had quoted me they had said £39.99 over 12 months, now it was over 18 months and with that I highlighted how long I had been with them and that I was a new customer to their infinity package if I took it out and what Sky had offered and they put the phone down on me. With the putting down of the phone BT had sealed their own fate although really not wanting to change the line, there was no other way around it.
I phoned up Sky and explained what I wanted and ended up going up to £34.40 a month because I took out Anytime Calls because it fits more into our phone usage. So ok we are talking an increase of £7 a month but hopefully there will be no call charges like we were getting with BT only having Evening and Weekend Calls. As an added bonus now with Sky you get Caller ID for free which is another £2.50 a month on BT. Everything set up and ready to go I have to admit I did have a few discussions with Sky and found their support to be far better at answering the questions I had so I locked in the date for the switch, although at this point being the first time the line wouldn’t be with BT nerves were high.
True to their word however a welcome letter came highlighting the package and costs along with the speed I should be getting and date of transfer. However that did not settle the nerves because I still didn’t have any equipment, on the 10th September what came to my door the sky hub and then it just sat there then until the 14th switch-over day.
The switch over day was one of the worst bits now because about 5 am the BT Home Hub had disconnected and my understanding over it was that I wouldn’t really lose service as I would just plug the Sky Hub in and away I went. So about 6 am I switched them over and I didn’t have any internet, although it wasn’t what I had expected I thought they did say up until midnight tonight to go completely through maybe. So as a test to see whether the phone was working phoned the landline and saw that my mobile number had appeared so I thought great Sky has the line and at least the landline is working. Then about 12:30 pm everything just went white and smiley I was connected and to be fair at 39.9998 megs download 9.99999 meg upload so going to my main machine I tested its speed and it was getting 20 megs down 9 up. As its a distance away from the hub wirelessly I decided to sit in the living room with my Chromebook and got 37.65 meg so there was a sigh of relief it was all working.
I have to say the whole switch over has been nerve racking and a positive experience, why BT as a company do not reward loyalty is beyond me but if you’re thinking about changing providers my advice do not think twice, because in my experience although was what I was expecting in places it went through quite smoothly. The only negative think I have to say about Sky two days in is that the spec of their Sky Hub 2 leaves a lot to be desired I have found that from my main desktop I can get speeds anywhere between 30 meg going all the way down to 2 meg purely because of the wireless. I know that they can’t control that to some degree but the lack of 5ghz as well seems to hinder it. As the BT Home Hub, 5 did seem a lot more stable. I am hoping to change my network set up today a bit and see whether I can’t make a few changes and see whether I can solve the issue so watch this space.
Since the huge melt down I had a few years ago with WordPress if I am honest I haven’t really put a great deal of thought or any effort into Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because I don’t know when I came back to blogging here at Totalreach I wanted it to be an outlet for what mattered to me personally. In the back of my mind I wanted it to become bigger and better than it was before but that reality of being that needle in a haystack loomed over me until now.
Yesterday I had played with caching and without having any stats for you now the blog does seem a little less responsive at times and faster at others, so without proper testing I can’t judge on my success there, at moment but it did reignite something in me. As soon as I had sorted out the configuration and was happy it was working I wanted to do more. I wanted to improve my blog which I hadn’t wanted to do in a long time. I have wanted to post and produce new content but that want to do more technical things to the site just hasn’t been there.
YouTube was my friend again if I am honest it was the next video in the series of Craig Chamberlin, so I settled in listening to his video which was an easy listen I must admit because he wasn’t screen capturing this time it was more of a podcast/discussion with a guest. This really worked out well for me because it allowed me to write-up my blog on WordPress caching well taking on tips. There was a recommended plugin Yoast SEO and that was it I was downloading it and listening to what the video had to say. The bit that hit me first while doing this was that how much things have changed in the few years that I hadn’t been worrying about SEO, for a start now people don’t worry too much about keywords anymore. They still there but now its more to do with the quality of the post and social side of the internet, all though this isn’t news to me but it’s how much of impact the social side can have on those results. Also the advice of not getting the archives indexed.
Not getting the archives indexed was a weird one for me because when I was really getting into SEO it was the school of thought then you wanted all your site indexed. The revelation to me today was that you don’t you want all your posts yes but you don’t want all the archive pages that are created in a blog because it won’t be giving the visitor the information they are looking for really. It will be giving them a list of posts on a given date or using a given tag in some cases as well, not the specific post/page they are looking for. What’s the problem with that I hear you ask? Yes the information they wanted is there but they have to look for it, and in that case you may lose the reading.
New Plugin installed now only time will tell if all my new changes to SEO to see if it makes a huge difference to my little site but only time will tell as you can’t rush the powers that be at Google to index the new link formats and other little changes I have made.
WordPress Caching is what I have been working on today and this is a huge topic. What brought this whole thing about was the fact that a mate has just ventured into hosting his own personal blog (He is not new to blogging as he reviews for some well known sites but its his first move into his own). While answering some of his questions as someone that has had a WordPress Blog for many years now albeit now master at it in the slightest but I know enough to get by I noticed caching and the fact that I didn’t do it.
The web hosting provider that I use as some CloudFlare stuff built into the CPanel and that was where I first noticed it yesterday due to the fact that I tend just log into my WordPress installation and don’t really deal with the back end of my hosting package now that everything is set up. This addition had looking into the service and I quickly realised ok my site isn’t visited by loads of people as of the time of this post but this could be something worth looking into.
So while setting up CloudFlare I have admit I ended up removing and adding my site multiple times because although I followed the instructions, the speed test sites kept telling me that I wasn’t running CDN which it should of said I was. So last night I thought never mind, I’ll look into caching plugins and forget about CloudFlare and so that is what I did.
WP Super Cache
Having given up on Cloudflare just not working right and to be fair to the service not giving them the full 24 hours to propagate my DNS settings for my site I went into using WP Super Cache. While not really understanding which settings would work best for me I did some Googling and furious YouTube video watching to find out what would work for me. I activated it and took the settings I thought that would benefit my server and site and ran with it. To be honest I saw little difference in my personal browsing of the site and run some tests and although there was a little improvement not enough to warrant really keeping the plugin. On further reflection though I do think that due to the lack of traffic to my site it could have caused the problem of which I would say that maybe you don’t want the cache expiring so quickly, especially as my site is updated 3 times a week at the moment.
W3 Total Cache
Not completely happy with the speed improvement that WP Super Cache gave me and to be honest with you the niggling feel that I should be using Cloudflare, I found myself browsing the WordPress Plugins and another caching plugin that was high up was W3 Total Cache and I thought why not lets give this ago. Before installing it however I decided to YouTube it and found in actually fact one of the Tech Channels that I used to watch did a whole video on this plugin. I was amazed with the amount of features it had and although WP Super Cache probably had them in there somewhere this was better laid out and while the guy was going through the plugin he admitted to being no expert but this was just what I was looking for. The reason for this because the plugin has extensions where as WP Super Cache didn’t and one of those extensions supports CloudFlare. With all this in mind though it does have some minimum requirements and you can check that your server is compatible with the features and it turns out although mine will running it won’t run in the most efficient way. No biggy I thought lets give it ago what’s the worst that can happen, after watching this video I went through the plugin with ease and set it all up.
I’ve only had the caching system enabled and configured properly for about an hour so the jury is out on whether it will make a difference but I am hopeful after running some initial tests have shown the caching to work, having taken a whole 5 seconds off load and also shown the CDN being active. This huge because manually setting up CloudFlare hadn’t shown that and Super Cache didn’t have the option to use it. Be warned though both these can/do edit your HTAcces file so it might be worth backing up a copy before installation of the plugins just so you can repair it if necessary. So if you’re looking for a caching Plugin I would say W3 Total Cache is the way to go.
As always feel free to comment and share your thoughts and experiences with these plugins or anything related to WordPress Caching.
I will probably update you on the reports from CloudFlare once I have been using it for 24 hours.
Here is the video that I used to configure the plugin with some changes due to my server specification.
This post is going to be a bit disjointed as I am trying to write these posts from a more personal aspect because that seems to be what Microsoft are trying to achieve from this Operating System and that it is built with user experience in mind. If I am completely honest with you I do feel that they have done what they have always done and that is Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been. So I guess the big question is 24 hours on will I be going back to Windows 8 which was on my main machine? The answer would be no but that’s not to say I haven’t got issues with Windows 10.
Performance wise it seems ok, but boot up seems a little slower than it was although I didn’t actually time the Windows 8 boot so haven’t got the actual statistics to back it up (kinda of wish I had). That said though as it was an upgrade and not a clean install this might not be a fair statement so once I have got myself settled and a bit of time I might try to do a clean install and it could improve the performance. The other thing to note though is that for the first month Windows 10 is holding onto your older installation so you can recover it and go back to Windows 8 or 7 depending on what you had so it might even improve after you get rid of that. Other performance issues I have found is my Graphics although this isn’t really a reflection on Windows 10 more to do with AMD and their driver, as I did upgrade my driver for my card on Windows 8 about a week ago and found that there was some screen tearing at times, and rolled back the driver to find out that the tearing stopped. In the rush to upgrade I forgot to check the driver version I was using so could get the non tearing one, but who knows there could be a fix around the corner.
Microsoft Edge is a new feature of the operating system that replace Internet Explorer and to be honest I like the idea, and its feature set but when I was using it, it just felt clunky and I had some issues loading high intensive webpages for some reason even seeing memory usage go past a gig, so for that I quickly went back to Google Chrome. I don’t think I will ever really leave.
Speaking of Google and there is one huge elephant in the room here and has coursed some really outrage on the internet and with a friend in discussion about it and that’s privacy. There is a whole set of settings for privacy and although this operating system is built around it seems collecting data about us, I would like to say that it isn’t necessarily Microsoft’s fault maybe its the way in which we consume our technology and the services that we want to use? Although there is a lot more that I could discuss about this issue I feel that it deserves its own post if I wish to discuss the topic.
Realizing that this all quite negative in some respects there was one feature that I was very surprised about and that was the Windows Update System has been completely revamped. No longer do you get the optional updates, so this means that you will always get all the updates installed if left on default and also they operate using peer-to-peer now so would come down even quicker as you’re not relying on Microsoft Servers alone, but there is a downside to this you’ll be uploading patches in the background. That said though there is an option to turn this feature off or just use it for local machines which is the option I went for. So my computer will only allow computers on my network to share updates with, thus will actually make it even easier and quicker for the downloading of updates because one computer will download it from Microsoft and then the other two on my network will just take it from the first machine to get the update. As my network is quicker internal than external you can see the advantage and also if you were on a usage limit for your ISP this now reduces the strain on that just for Windows Update as it means you won’t be needing to download the update 3 times in my case. This is all providing that the machines are on at the same time.
Overall I would give my experience with upgrading to Windows 10 a 7/10 and would say that although there are some issues I would recommend people upgrade for free if they can. As they have sort of reinstated the start menu and I also it does mean the support life of your machine will be longer.
After that really long blog post how have you found Windows 10? Are you enjoying it or has it been a nightmare?
Well the last 24 hours or so have been huge in the world of Windows for some others not so much. The biggest launch of an Operating System to date I would say purely because it has been offered to most consumers for free.
Being quite a techy and having to maintain and solve quite few people’s problems in the area I have to admit I was quite proactive in my approach to this release in the fact that I had decided to get up at 5am my time to try to install it before I got any questions. This turned out to be a huge mistake because my big machine which was the one that I wanted to do first was just wasn’t getting the pop up and when looking in the Windows Update history Windows 10 Home Upgrade was failing. Quite aware of time restraints I quickly went searching the Internet to see whether anyone else was having the issue to find out that it was actually being launched midnight of the 29th July 2015 (for those that maybe reading this years on) and others had this problem. So moving through reddit of all places there was a suggestion that you delete your temporary Windows Update files and the run a command line command to start the download and install process again. Well to be honest I’d seen this trick done before for update issues and having already backed things up ready for the worst I had nothing to lose. However was to no avail it didn’t work out for me.
This is where I get a little confused half the day had gone and still nothing for my big machine however a lower spec machine was turned on by another family member and he said I got it shall I install it? This confused me a little because there I was trying to force the install on my machine and seeing no reason why it wouldn’t have popped up yet only to find that it’s just worked for him. Just as a confidence booster I sat next to him while he did it and the upgrade although taking ages on his machine went really well and I was sat there just giving little bits of advice as needed of which there wasn’t much. He didn’t need to reinstall anything and everything was just there working, so I thought great not so much to worry about when it comes to others.
24 hours later though sat in front of my machine from when I first started trying to get my machine on Windows 10, I had nothing so I want around looking for another way of getting Windows 10 and I stumbled across this article http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install?ocid=ms_wol_win10 and although not the way I wanted to do it was an option and had seen the official way of doing it. So I downloaded the tool and clicked upgrade this PC and what would you know it worked. I will see though Microsoft or My ISP was throttling the download because I was only downloading at the right of a 2meg line and I am on a 17 meg with no problems. However after a few hours of downloading and configuring I can honestly say it has been one of the easiest Windows install I have done in years. That said it isn’t a clean install and I haven’t actually needed or wanted to do an upgrade before.
Windows 10 initial thoughts after about half an hour of use is I quite like it but I need to use it a little longer to write about it so that will be possibly tomorrows blog. Although this has been a bit of a ramble but if you’re having issues with getting your free copy, just make sure your eligible for it and you meet the requirements I would recommend using the standalone installer if Microsoft haven’t given you the nod yet. Just a side note that you need to do the upgrade before you can do a clean install just because of the way in which the activation process works.
Symantec the parent company of Norton is one of the market leaders in Internet Security and has been a very up and down relationship with its customers, due to the fact up until the 2009 version of its software was very heavy on the system. That all changed though and it has slowly become one of the lightest suites available on the market but still has the stigma of its previous negative reputation.
Norton is one of the major security companies that haven’t actually adopted the H.I.P.S (Host Intrusion Prevention System) method of detecting zero day malware and have opted to stay with behavior blocker with the use of its cloud system. This means that although if something isn’t in its definitions that it will monitor its behaviour and check it against its cloud system in order to determine what sort of file it is. This isn’t necessarily the safest way of doing things because HIPS will just say you’re an unknown file and will block it from making any system level changes. Which is better is still open to interpretation due to the fact that HIPS could stop a safe program from running before it has analysed it because it’s not taking into account its behavior on the other side behavior blockers could take some time to determine the file is up to no good-by that point they file could have infected the system. Obviously there are some grey areas to both and this isn’t the best explanation of the two systems so that everyone can kind of understand the difference. Norton runs something called Download Insight however which means that every file you download gets sent for analysis in its cloud to determined whether its safe and this for me is enough to make up for the lack of HIPS. The reason for this is we are honest the most common place we get our software and files now are internet based so therefore this layer of protection is going to make Symantec know what is being downloaded and able to give the go ahead to whether you can run the file safely, this is huge for the non tech savvy of us, as HIPS can be complicated.
Norton has detected everything that has been thrown at the test system however others have found that it’s detection to non-internet based threats i.e. from a pen drive, has been less than encouraging due to the way they have layered the security I would have thought. That said it comes to personal preference in most cases because these tests are taking it to the extreme and Norton has continued to score well in third-party testing such as AV-Comparatives. The other thing to note is Norton have streamed lined their products this year and made it so that you’ve got the choice of Norton Security or Norton Security and Backup. What does that mean to the real world? It means that they are now offering only Norton 360 with and without the backup functionality.
While reading the PCMag review of the product mainly to see others reaction to it, quite a few of the comments where more to do with the business decision to streamline their product line rather than the product performance. The users and people who commented was annoyed at the fact that Norton was going to offer them a free upgrade from Norton Internet Security or Norton 360 as examples to Norton Security. This was mainly because people were taking advantage of the free upgrades as long as you have a license so where buying outdated ones and then upgrading. This new move might stop people from doing that or it could allow them to do it after the first year, only Symantec know the answer to that. The one thing that could be added to this Norton should really send out emails to its customers to let them know that they are discontinuing their products in exchange for the new one so people know that they need to cancel their auto-renewals in order to take out the new product for the people who are happy to pay full price for the software.
Norton Security 2015 has given the test system no issues to not recommend the latest offering and to top it off it only uses about 20 megs of RAM at all times obviously you might get a few spikes when scanning, however other than that it has been really low on resource usage. The system feels responsive and allows the user to feel secure because while the system is idle it will do a range of tasks in order to keep the system running smoothly. For this reason Norton Security will be the pick of the year and get 10/10.