Back

gHacks

2019: the year I dropped all entertainment subscription plans 2019-02-11 20:00:26

This is somewhat of a personal story but it is probably one that is of interest to many out there.

For the past couple of years, I had Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions. I never subscribed to music streaming services because of the many alternatives out there.

I started with Amazon Prime a long time ago to reduce shipping costs. Amazon added more and more features and services to it, and eventually Amazon Prime Video.

I always saw it as an add-on to Prime and not something that I paid extra for. When Netflix became available in Germany, I decided to subscribe to the service after looking over the pond jealously for years.

While I was subscribed to both services, I have to admit that I did not really use them much. Sure, I watched a lot during my first month of Netflix and Amazon Prime, and the occasional show or movie throughout the years.

netflix membership end

In 2018, I started to analyze the time spend using these services and came to the conclusion that I did not really use them all that much.

There were months in which I did not watch a single show or movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime. It became clear to me that it was not worth it. With Netflix costing about €120 per year and Amazon Prime about €70 per year, I spend nearly €200 (about $226) per year on entertainment services that I did not use much.

Add to that the €210 that I'm forced to pay for a broadcast fee in Germany -- despite not watching any TV or listening to Radio -- I'd spend about €450 per year for these three.

While I cannot get rid of the broadcast fee, as it is forced even if you don't watch any TV or listen to Radio, I could cancel my Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions.

For Netflix, it was an easy decision. The streaming service offers some good shows but the number of movies and shows that are available is relatively low. Netflix does add shows and movies regularly, but it always felt like a dozen or so new additions of which maybe one or two could be interesting, and that was not really worth it.

Amazon Prime was a bit different as it included not only Video but also free shipping and other benefits. The Prime Video content on the other hand was not better than Netflix's offering; not enough content to warrant a subscription. So, I decided to cancel it as well and change my buying habits as well (buy less on Amazon, and mostly when free shipping is included).

The streaming landscape, at least that of TV and movie shows, will become even more fragmented in the future as it is. It will even lead to more fragmentation and more subscriptions that you need to access it all.

The alternatives

While I don't watch a lot of shows or movies, I like some very much and completely ignoring all of them was never an option.

Here is how I handle, and plan to handle, things in 2019:

  • Buy DVD or Blu-Ray shows or movies, preferably when they are discounted or offered on marketplaces like eBay. I understand that this may cost more than what the yearly subscriptions cost. Then again, the shows and movies that I want to watch are not on Netflix or Amazon Prime (last examples: Death in Paradise and Poriot TV show) and I can play them whenever I want wherever I want, even without Internet. Doing so will reduce media consumption as I have to think about the purchases and not just click on play.
  • Watch interesting shows on YouTube and other platforms. There are lots of cool shows out there that I'm more interested in than in shows and movies that get  arguably worse and worse.
  • Listen to Internet Radio streams.
  • Listen to Podcasts.

I'd consider an offer like Spotify, but for movies and TV shows. If a service would offer everything, more or less, and for a reasonable price, I'd probably would subscribe to it.

The likelihood of that happening is relatively low, though. Maybe after some mergers or consolidations.

Now You: Are you subscribed to media services on the Internet?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post 2019: the year I dropped all entertainment subscription plans appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Read more


Chrome to skip low priority tasks until shutdown to reduce memory use 2019-02-11 17:13:59

Google is working on a new memory reducing feature for the company's Chrome web browser. The new function, called "Skip best effort tasks" landed in Chrome Canary just recently; it is designed to skip certain low priority tasks during runtime to improve memory use of the web browser. The skipped tasks will be executed during shutdown instead, according to the provided description.

Skip best effort tasks is not enabled by default in Chrome Canary. It is available as an experimental flag and a startup parameter; which of the two you use is up to you.

Here is how you enable the flag in Chrome:

  1. Make sure Chrome Canary is up to date.
  2. Load chrome://flags/#disable-best-effort-tasks in the browser's address bar; doing so should open the right flag.
  3. Set the status of the flag to enabled.
  4. Restart the Chrome browser.

You may also start Chrome with the parameter --disable-best-effort-tasks for the same effect.

chrome skip best effort tasks

You can undo the change at any time by setting the experimental flag to default or disabled, or by removing the startup parameter if you used it.

Chrome informs you that you run an "unsupported command line flag and that stability and security "will suffer" because of that. I did not notice any issues while running Chrome with the flag enabled though; it is possible that the notification is a generic one.

The flag's description reads:

With this flag on, tasks of the lowest priority will not be executed until shutdown. The queue of low priority tasks can increase memory usage.Also, while it should be possible to use Chrome almost normally with this flag, it is expected that some non-visible operations such as writing user data to disk, cleaning caches, reporting metrics or updating components won't be performed until shutdown.

The description explains what is happening when you enable the experimental feature. Chrome maintains a queue of low priority tasks by default; the queue may grow over time and that may lead to increased memory usage.

Chrome with the experimental flag enabled won't execute these low priority tasks during runtime to save memory. The tasks will be executed during shutdown instead; this may lead to a delayed shutdown.

Google mentions Telemetry, disk cache cleaning, writing user data to disk, or updating components as low priority tasks.

The new effort to reduce Chrome's memory usage is not the only one that came to light recently. Google is working on a feature called Never Slow Mode that aims to limit resource requests by blocking those that exceed certain size restrictions.

Now You: What is the most memory friendly browser currently? (via Chromestory)

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Chrome to skip low priority tasks until shutdown to reduce memory use appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Read more


Use F8 in Microsoft Word to select text quickly 2019-02-11 12:32:18

Most Microsoft Word users use the mouse when it comes to text selection, probably. It is easy enough to make fine-grained text selections or quick selections using the mouse only.

A double-click on any word selects it right away, and a triple-click selects an entire paragraph instead. Another option that Word users have is to use the keyboard to select text.

Just hold down the Shift-key on the keyboard and use the arrow keys to start selecting text. You may also use Ctrl-A to select all at once.

Extend Mode in Word

f8 microsoft word copy

What many users of Microsoft Word don't know is that it is also possible to use the F8 key on the keyboard for text selection.

The F8 key is mapped to what Microsoft's Office team calls Extend Mode.

The entire process works similarly to using mouse clicks to select text. Double-tap on the F8-key on the keyboard to select a word, triple-tap on the F8-key to select a sentence, activate the F8-key four times to select the paragraph, and a fifth time to select the entire document.

  • F8: enter Extend Mode
  • 2x F8: highlight word
  • 3x F8: highlight sentence
  • 4x F8: highlight paragraph
  • 5x F8: highlight entire document
  • Esc: exit Extend Mode
  • Adding Shift: reverses the operation

One difference to using the mouse to highlight text in Microsoft Word is that Word remembers how many times you tapped on F8. It is no longer necessary to perform the operation in a limited period for it to register with the program.

You can tap three times first, and five seconds later once more to select an entire paragraph.

Other Extend Mode features

Extend Mode supports additional text related shortcuts that you may find useful. Take the following example:

  • With the cursor positioned somewhere in a document, press F8 to enter Extend Mode.
  • Now press another character or multiple characters quickly to extend the text selection to the first matching instance.

Another option that you have is to combine Extend Mode with mouse clicks. Enter Extend Mode and click anywhere to highlight anything between the initial cursor position and the mouse selection.

Last but not least, use Ctrl-Shift-F8 and mouse or keyboard to select text blocks.

Remember the press the Esc-key to exit Extend Mode once you are done.

Now You: Which Office applications do you use?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Use F8 in Microsoft Word to select text quickly appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Read more


Block Microsoft Edge from running in the background on Windows 10 2019-02-11 09:18:38

If you run a device that is powered by Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, you may have noticed Microsoft Edge processes in the Task Manager or another program even if you don't run the program.

These processes, MicrosoftEdge.exe, MicrosoftEdgeCP.exe, and MicrosoftEdgeSH.exe, show up as suspended in the task manager.

The processes use no CPU or memory in suspended state; some users may prefer to block Microsoft Edge from running in the background even in suspended state. If you never use Edge, there is virtually no reason why it should launch in the background.

Note that the process works fine on recent versions of Windows 10. It may not work with the not-yet-released Chromium-based version of Windows 10; we will see.

The process requires editing of the Windows Registry and a Settings change. Note that you can still run Microsoft Edge on the device.

Here we go:

Settings app

microsoft edge background

The very first thing you want to do is prevent Edge from running in the background:

  1. Use the shortcut Windows-I to open the Settings application on the Windows 10 device.
  2. Go to Privacy > Background Apps.
  3. Toggle Microsoft Edge on the page so that its status reads off.

Windows Registry

microsoft edge background stop

You need elevated privileges to edit the Registry. I recommend that you create a backup of the Windows Registry before you make the changes.

You can download Registry files from Majorgeeks to make the changes without editing the Registry manually. It is usually better if you make the changes manually to better understand what is being changed.

  1. Tap on the Windows-key, type regedit, and hit the Enter-key on the keyboard to launch the Registry Editor.
  2. Confirm the UAC prompt that is displayed.
  3. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\MicrosoftEdge\Main
    • If Main does not exist, right-click on MicrosoftEdge and select New > Key, and name it Main.
    • Tip: if you make a mistake naming something, right-click on it and select rename to change the name.
  4. Right-click on Main and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it SyncFavoritesBetweenIEAndMicrosoftEdge
  6. Double-click on it and set its value to 1.
  7. Right-click on Main and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  8. Name it PreventLiveTileDataCollection.
  9. Double-click on it and set its value to 1.
  10. Right-click on Main and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  11. Name it AllowPrelaunch.
  12. Make sure the value is set to 0 (it is the default).
  13. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\MicrosoftEdge\TabPreloader
    1. If TabPreloader does not exist, right-click on MicrosoftEdge and select New > Key, and name it TabPreloader.
  14. Right-click on TabPreloader and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  15. Name it PreventTabPreloading.
  16. Double-click on the new value and set it to 1.
  17. Right-click on TabPreloader and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  18. Name it AllowTabPreloading.
  19. Make sure its value is set to 0.
  20. Restart the computer.

Closing Words

The Microsoft Edge processes should be gone after the restart. You can undo the change by deleting the mentioned keys and values in the Registry, and allowing Edge to run in the background.

Now You: Which is your preferred browser right now?

Ghacks needs you. You can find out how to support us here or support the site directly by becoming a Patreon. Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Block Microsoft Edge from running in the background on Windows 10 appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Read more