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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How to Insert Symbols into Google Docs and Slides

You can insert special characters in your documents and presentations without having to remember all those Alt-codes by using Google Docs and Slides easy-to-use character insertion tool. It offers a myriad of symbols, characters, symbols, languages, and more. Here’s how you can insert special characters into your documents.

Note: You can’t insert characters directly into Google Sheets, but you can copy and paste them into a cell on the spreadsheet.

How to Insert Special Characters into Google Docs and Slides

Inserting symbols into your file is a straightforward process that you can perform in several ways. Whether you want some silly emojis, arrows, or a different language’s scripts you can achieve this by manually selecting a category, typing in the search bar, or by drawing what you’re looking for.

The first thing you’ll need to do is open up a new  Google Docs or Slides file to get started.

Alternatively, if you’re using the latest version of Chrome, you can type “docs.new” or “slides.new” into a new tab’s address bar.

In your document, open the “Insert” menu and then click the “Special Characters” command.

Manually Search for Symbols

If you don’t have a particular character in mind (or you’re not sure how to search for what you do have in mind), you can use the drop-down menus to browse through the plethora of available symbols.

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Microsoft Is Talking About Windows 10’s Quality, But Changing Nothing

Microsoft today re-released Windows 10’s October 2018 Update. Rather than explaining what went wrong, Microsoft publicly patted itself on the back for its great quality assurance process. Microsoft promises increased transparency and better communication, but talk is cheap.

Has Anything Changed?

There’s only one lasting change to Windows 10’s development process we know about, and that was made on October 9. The Feedback Hub now lets Windows Insiders rate the “severity” of issues they’re reporting. This should help the Windows team catch serious file-deletion bugs instead of overlooking them.

Microsoft has not announced any concrete changes in the last month. With the re-release of the October 2018 Update, Microsoft has slowed down after it got burned:

While the April Update had the fastest Windows 10 update rollout velocity, we are taking a more measured approach with the October Update, slowing our rollout to more carefully study device health data.

Better yet, Windows Update will not install the October 2018 Update just because you clicked “Check for Updates.” (You can still download the Update Assistant tool if you want to update right now.)

But Microsoft has not said whether this is a lasting change. Next time around, Microsoft could quickly release the update to people who click “Check for Updates” again.

RELATED: Windows 10’s October Update Returns, Promises Not to Delete Your Files

Microsoft Promises “Transparency”

Microsoft published a lengthy blog post about how it ensures Windows 10 quality. Most of that post is describing all the work Microsoft was already doing to test Windows 10. Microsoft claims it’s doing a great job with “Windows as a service” and says “customer incidents” are down with every update.

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The Best Small Monitors For Small Projects And Small Spaces

When it comes to monitors, bigger is better… unless it isn’t. If your specific needs call for something smaller—like secondary screens, a small, space-constrained workstation, or even a custom in-car installation—your options are limited. Here are the best among them.

While monitor manufacturers don’t seem particularly interested in selling monitors smaller than about 24 inches anymore, there are a few quality options for those who don’t need big screens. We’ve made selections in the range of 20, 15, and 10 inches that should cover most applications, as well as a small TV (with the included antenna tuner and speakers) and a portable USB-powered option.

The Best 20” Monitor: Viewsonic VA2055SM ($85)

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Monitors in this size range tend to skew low-market, chopping off features in the name of price. And while Viewsonic’s VA2055SM is definitely among the cheapest in its lineup, it also has a few extras you don’t expect at this price point.

The LCD screen covers a full HD 1920×1080 resolution, and it includes a VESA mount for use with aftermarket stands or multi-monitor setups. It also manages to pack in some low-power speakers into the case, saving a little money and space if you’re short on either. Note that the monitor uses either DVI or VGA for video, so you might need an adapter if you’re only able to use HDMI or DisplayPort.

The Best 15” Monitor: Eyoyo 15.6-inch IPS ($146)

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This little screen is designed to fit into almost any spot you want it to. With HDMI, VGA, standard RCA, and direct security camera BNC inputs, it can connect immediately to almost any desktop or laptop machine (minus Apple’s USB-C-only designs).

With a surprisingly dense 1080p IPS panel and a VESA mount to boot, it’s amazingly versatile, and it comes with a handy remote control as well. Speakers are mounted to the rear, so they won’t be great options for listening to music, but they’re fine for basic interaction.

The Best 10” Monitor: Eyoyo 10-inch IPS

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Windows 10’s October Update Returns, Promises Not to Delete Your Files

Microsoft has finally re-released Windows 10’s October 2018 Update—in mid-November. All those file deletion bugs should be fixed, and Windows Update will soon automatically install it on your PC.

How to Install the October 2018 Update Now

Now that the update has been released publicly once again, Windows Update will eventually download it on your PC after a slow roll-out process that ensures it’s compatible with your PC’s hardware. Microsoft says the “Check for Updates” button won’t install it immediately.

We will offer the October Update to users via Windows Update when data shows your device is ready and you will have a great experience. If we detect that your device may have an issue, such as an application incompatibility, we will not install the update until that issue is resolved, even if you “Check for updates,” so you avoid encountering any known problems.

To get the update now, you can download Microsoft’s Update Assistant tool. Run the downloaded tool and it will automatically upgrade your PC to the October 2018 Update. However, Microsoft recommends you avoid the tool and wait until the data “shows your device is ready and you will have a great experience.”

If you want to delay the update for even longer, you’ll need Windows 10 Professional. It lets you delay big updates like this for months, if you like—just like business PCs would.

Microsoft Promises More Transparency

While Microsoft isn’t explaining exactly what went wrong with the October 2018 Update, Microsoft did put up a detailed blog post that explains how Windows updates are tested before release.

Microsoft says this is just the first in a series of blog posts about Windows 10’s quality assurance process, and promises to be more transparent in the future:

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PUBG Arrives on PlayStation 4 This December with Console-Exclusive Items

At long last, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is making its way to PlayStation 4 this December, one year after its initial PC debut.

The PlayStation 4 version of PUBG will launch with the same three maps the other versions currently have, including the original map Erangel, desert map Miramar, and the forested island paradise of Sanhok. All major features, including the ranking system, event mode, and trophies will be on board as well.

The base game will debut on the console as the Looter’s Edition on Dec. 7 for $30, with a special Survivor’s Edition priced at $50 and a Champion’s Edition at $60. The Looter’s Edition comes with the regular game only, but both more expensive options come packing a few goodies. The Survivor’s Edition comes with 20,000 BP to spend on in-game items and a 2,300 G-Coin Pack. The Champion’s Edition comes with 20,000 BP and a 6,000 G-Coin Pack.

Both the Survivor’s Edition and Champion’s Edition come with a Survivor’s Pass: Vikendi item, offering an additional progression path through the game, which opens up more ways for players to earn in-game rewards. It will also be available for purchase separately across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. There are additional details coming that should shed more light on what it includes at a later date.

PlayStation 4 owners who pre-order will receive two console-exclusive items as well: protagonist Nathan Drake’s outfit from the Uncharted series, and lead character Ellie’s backpack from The Last of Us. Both series are PlayStation exclusives. The game will also include HDR support for PlayStation 4 Pro users.

The multiplayer battle royale game, which kicked off the craze that’s engulfed the video game industry as of late, has since been eclipsed by the decidedly zanier free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite, but there are still plenty of PUBG fans alive and kicking. Previously the game was available on Xbox One first as a part of a year-long limited-time exclusivity deal, but now that period has ended, and PUBG is now available for free as part of the Xbox Game Pass program. Subscribers can play the game as much as they’d like to for free.

With the addition of PUBG to PlayStation 4’s library, it looks like everyone can now have their chicken dinner and eat it, too.

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How to Use (or Hide) Outlook’s Read Aloud Tool

Outlook includes an accessibility tool called “Read Aloud” that will read an email to you. This is useful for people with vision problems, but also if you prefer to hear a long passage rather than read it. You can even use it to understand how words are pronounced if you’re not sure, making it an ideal tool if you’re working in a non-native language. Here’s how to use it, and how to hide it if you don’t need it.

The Read Aloud tool is, by design, simple to use. Select the message you want to read and then click Home > Read Aloud.

If you’ve opened the message in a separate window, click Message > Read Aloud instead.

Whichever route you use, when you click “Read Aloud” the narrator will start reading the body of the message and Outlook will display the Read Aloud controls.

You can use these controls to decide what the narrator reads and how they read it. The rewind and forward buttons cause the narrator to go back or forward a line. Because Outlook determines the start and end of a line by where the line breaks are (which generally means where the author of the message hit Return), the rewind and forward buttons usually move the narrator back or forward one paragraph. You can use the pause button to pause the narration and the play button that appears in its place to resume the narration.

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Pandora Expands Its Recommendation Engine to Podcasts

For many web users, Pandora’s streaming radio was their first taste of algorithmic recommendation engines that adapted to the listener. Pandora has a lot of competition now, but it’s expanding into a new area: podcasts.

Starting today, a few Pandora beta users have access to personalized recommendations for podcasts based on the Podcast Genome Project. That’s an extension of the original Music Genome Project, the proprietary engine that drives Pandora’s recommendation engine by finding common elements in music that a single user enjoys. Podcasts are generally spoken word and much longer than individual music tracks, so they can’t be quantified in the same mathematical way that music can. But the principle of recommending content based on things that a user enjoys or doesn’t enjoy (the familiar thumbs up/thumbs down approach) is sound. Um, no pun intended.

The recommendation engine uses 1500 different data points to cater upcoming episodes for the listener, and it covers the wide range of genres in the medium, from This American Life to Questlove. That being said, Pandora’s talking about how it has “partnered with top-tier publishers,” which probably means that getting your indie Beyblade enthusiast podcast onto the actual Pandora app won’t be as easy as it is on platforms like iTunes and SoundCloud.

Pandora is accepting early access applications at this link. The press release says that the full podcast functionality will be widely available “in the coming weeks.” Podcast listening is only available on the mobile app for now.

 Source: BusinessWire

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How to Sync Notes for iPhone and iPad

Taking notes is a great way to make sure you don’t forget the latest million-dollar idea (or maybe just to get milk on the way home). Keeping notes in sync between your devices is vital to not missing something.

Thankfully, when it comes to iPhone and iPad, there are numerous ways of making notes on one device and having it almost magically appear on another. You don’t need to go hunting for an app to do it, either. Apple’s Notes app ticks off most of the requirements the majority of people need. The fact it’s built right into every iPhone and iPad—and that it’s free—certainly helps!

There are a couple of ways you can keep notes in sync—using iCloud or taking advantage of Google—and we’re going to outline both of them here.

Given iCloud’s tight integration with iPhone and iPad, let’s start there, shall we?

How to Sync Notes Using iCloud

To get things started, open the Settings app on any device on which you need your notes to sync.

Next, tap the Apple ID area at the very top of the screen. You’ll see your account’s profile picture as well as your name. Tapping anywhere around there should take you into the Apple ID settings screen. You may need to enter your iCloud password at this point, depending on how long it has been since you last authenticated.

Tap on the iCloud entry within the newly opened Apple ID settings screen.

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The Best Grammar Checkers For Every Type Of Writing

We all want to write better and more effectively. It’s easy to become both paranoid and complacent over one’s writing style. Fortunately, there are plenty of online services that help by checking your grammar. We’ve looked at some of the best grammar checkers out there.

Odds are you’ve already heard of Grammarly. Advertised seemingly everywhere, it’s actually also our favorite grammar checker, but that’s not to say there aren’t some great alternatives too. Read on to find out more about how other services are ideal, depending on your situation and how much you want to spend.

Best All-Rounder: Grammarly (Free-$30 per month)

Grammarly intensive advertising campaigns mean you’ve almost certainly heard of them before. There’s a good reason why it’s maintained its dominant place within the grammar checking market beyond strong advertising, though—it’s pretty great.

The service offers accurate and context-specific suggestions based around what you tell it. Writing a paper for work rather than a conversational letter? It’ll take that into consideration and offer slightly different suggestions. It spots things like missing articles, repetitive words, misspelled words, as well as more complex mistakes like when you use weak adjectives or you’ve messed up your modifier placements.

There are plugins available for everything imaginable so it’s quite the wraparound service. There’s even new support for Google Docs, as well as traditional word processing packages. You gain weekly progress reports too so you can see where you’re slipping up frequently.

The free service offers critical grammar and spelling checks, while a subscription to Premium offers up advanced checks, vocabulary enhancement suggestions, as well as genre-specific style checks. It costs $29.95 per month with that figure dropping to the equivalent of $19.98 per month if paid quarterly, or $11.66 per month if paid annually.

Best Grammarly Alternative: WhiteSmoke ($6-$18 per month)

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How to Disable Cortana’s Suggested Responses in Skype

The latest versions of Skype include suggested responses from Cortana. These are automatically generated replies to common types of messages, which you can send with a single click or tap. They’re similar to smart replies in Gmail.

If you’d like to disable these suggested responses, click Menu > Settings in Skype for Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Click the “General” category in the left pane. Under Cortana, disable the “Suggestions” feature. You can now close the Settings screen.

The Skype app for iPhone and Android works pretty much the same.

In the Skype app, tap your profile icon and then tap the gear icon to open the Settings screen. Tap the “General” option and then disable the “Suggestions” feature under Cortana.

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