Opera adds the Play Music sidebar to Opera Browser for Spotify, Youtube and Apple

Opera Software released a new Developer version of its Opera web browser. The new version introduces support for music playback from the browser’s sidebar. Opera Developer is the cutting-edge development version of the browser. Features are introduced in the browser first before they land in Beta and Stable versions.

If you do like to play music in your browser, you may have noticed that it usually involves juggling between different windows, e.g. different browser tabs in a single browser, or, in the case of a dedicated desktop music player, between different program windows.

Some browsers introduced global media controls, e.g. Firefox and Chrome, to control playback in that browser without switching windows. While that is useful to some, it still requires accessing the music service’s interface for some operations, e.g. searching for music, playing a different playlist, or adding new songs to the existing playlist.

The Opera browser implementation is controlled via an icon in the browser’s sidebar. A click on it display the supported services — currently Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music — that you may access from the sidebar. You can resize the interface and pin it if you want to make it stick to the screen.

A click on a service opens its startpage. What happens next depends on that service, as you may need to sign-in to an account to start using it. A click on YouTube Music displays the service’s startpage and options to play one of the listed playlists, e.g. top 100 charts, or to search for music

A click on the play button starts playback right away. Some services may display ads to free users, and these are played even if you have enabled Opera’s built-in adblocker.

Music playback continues even if the sidebar interface is hidden; Opera indicates playback by changing the icon of the player. If a site is opened that plays music or audio as well, music playback is paused automatically by the player to avoid that multiple sounds play at the same time in the browser. Playback is resumed once all other audio stops playing in the browser.

Opera users may customize the sidebar; they may hide any service that they don’t use to avoid clicking on these unintentionally. Click on the three dots at the bottom of the sidebar and toggle the options to hide them in the interface. You can also hide the entire sidebar if you don’t use it.

Installation links:

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Enable or Disable Programs and Apps Automatically Restarting with Windows 10

In Windows 10, you might have noticed that sometimes if you don’t close a running program or UWP app and you restart or sign out, the program or app automatically launches once you sign in. Actually Windows 10 comes with a special feature called “Windows Restart Manager” which detects programs and apps (including UWP or Store apps) running in the operating system and if the user doesn’t close those apps and restarts the computer or logs off, this Restart Manager feature automatically restores the previously running programs and apps after reboot or sign in.

To take benefit of this feature, 3rd party programs and apps need to register as restartable app with Restart Manager functionality. Now-a-days many programs such as Mozilla Firefox, etc are utilizing this feature to automatic restart once user restarts or signs out. Don’t confuse this feature with automatic startup programs. Many programs and apps add their entries to Windows startup list and automatically launch as soon as the user logins to Desktop. You can manage (enable/disable) those startup programs.

Windows Restart Manager is a different feature. It restarts those programs and apps which were registered to take benefit of this functionality and were running when the user restarted his device. It doesn’t matter whether those programs and apps have their entries in Startup programs list.

Windows 10 allows users to enable or disable this functionality using Settings app. Previously this functionality was tied with finishing setting up the device after Windows Updates installed in the device.Now the newer versions of Windows 10 (version 2004 and later) come with a dedicated and separate option to turn on/off automatically restarting programs and apps after reboot or sign out.

If you also want to enable or disable this functionality in Windows 10, following steps will help you:

1. Open Settings app from Start Menu. Alternatively, you can press WIN+I keys together to open Settings directly.

2. Now click on Accounts icon in Settings app and then click on Sign-in Options tab present in left-side pane.

PS: Alternatively, You can directly launch this page using “ms-settings:signinoptions” command in RUN dialog box

3. Scroll down to bottom and you’ll see “Automatically save my restartable apps when I sign out and restart them after I sign in” option under “Restart apps” section.

If you want Windows 10 to restart programs and apps after sign in, set the option to ON.

If you want to prevent/restrict Windows 10 from automatically restarting programs and apps after you sign in, set the option to OFF.

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How to lower the WhatsApp data usage

The following guide provides you with instructions on lowering the data usage of the popular messaging application WhatsApp.Created for Android devices, you can use the guide if you run WhatsApp on another mobile operating system as well.

Applications that you run regularly on your mobile devices can use a considerable amount of data when they are running.Many apps continue to run in the background once they have been started on a device. This is certainly true for most messaging applications, as they check regularly for new messages and other content to notify you the moment it is detected.

How to lower the WhatsApp data usage

First thing you need to do is verify WhatsApp’s data usage on your device. How that is done depends largely on your device. On my Xiaomi Mi4c, I select Security > Data Usage to find out about the data usage of the app. You may find data usage in a different location on your device, for instance under Networks > Data Usage.

If you cannot find that option, or don’t have it, then you may need to install a third-party data tracking application. You can use My Data Manager for that for instance. I suggest you run it at least a week before you check WhatsApp’s data usage during that time.

Once you have the number, you need to decide whether it is too high, or acceptable. If you think it is too high, you can modify some WhatsApp settings to lower the application’s data usage.

  1. Select WhatsApp > Menu > Settings.
  2. Select the Data Usage menu when the Settings page opens.

There you find the following options to lower WhatsApp’s data usage:

Configure media auto-download. You may configure this independently for mobile data, WiFi data, and roaming.

The default setting downloads photos when on mobile, all attachments when connected to a Wifi, and nothing at all when roaming.

To lower the usage, consider blocking all downloads from being processed automatically on mobile and / or on WiFi. The latter depends on whether the wireless networks that you connect the mobile device to are limited in regards to bandwidth.

Note that you may still download any attachment manually. WhatsApp displays a placeholder for attachments that have not been auto-downloaded by the app. A tap on the placeholder downloads the attachments to your device.

Low data usage. This setting enables the low data usage mode during WhatsApp calls. Please note that this goes hand in hand with a reduction in call quality. If you use WhatsApp for calls regularly, you may want to test the setting to see if you can live with the quality reduction, and whether reducing it has a big enough impact on the data usage of the app to make it worthwhile.

Chat Backup settings are another thing that you may want to check. While not configured by default to send data to a cloud provider, WhatsApp may be configured to do that.

Go to Menu > Settings > Chat > Chat Backup to get started. You find the “back up to Google Drive” option on the page. If it is enabled, consider disabling it as WhatsApp will transfer data to Google Drive regularly when it is enabled.

You may change other preferences there, for instance so that videos are not backed up to Google Drive, or the frequency of backups.

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How to delete WhatsApp messages that you sent

WhatsApp added a new feature to its messaging applications that you may use to delete messages that you sent already using the client.

Messages that you sent up until now could not not be deleted by you after the fact. There was no grace period to undo the sending, and it seems that users requested such a feature which works similarly to how email providers like Gmail provide undo options for a short period of time after sending messages.

This changes with the new deleting messages for everyone functionality that is implemented in the most recent versions of the WhatsApp client for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Deleting WhatsApp messages

The new feature has requirements that need to be met.

  1. Messages can only be deleted remotely (read: for everyone), if seven minutes have not passed since they were sent.
  2. Sender and recipients need to use the most recent version of the WhatsApp client.

WhatsApp won’t notify you if the deleting of the message is not successful. It may still be deleted on the device that you are using, but it may not have been deleted on the recipients device. Also, recipients may still see the message before it is deleted.

So, how do you delete messages that you sent using WhatsApp?

The process is simple:

  1. Open the chat and scroll to the message that you want deleted.
  2. Long-tap on the message that you want to delete.
  3. Optional: you may tap on additional messages to mark them as well and delete them in one go.
  4. Tap on the trashcan icon in the interface.
  5. Select the “delete for everyone” option to have WhatsApp delete the selected message locally and remotely.

Deleted messages are marked as such in the conversation history along with the time they were deleted. There is no option to restore deleted messages however.

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How to show a clear logon background on Windows 10

How to show a clear logon background on Windows 10

When you sign-in to a Windows 10 device you may notice a rather odd behavior. The background image is displayed just fine when you start the device but as soon as you interact with the screen, it is blurred. The following guide helps you restore a clear logon background.

Microsoft probably thought it a good idea to put the focus on the sign-in form and the few icons that it displays on the screen. The change was introduced in Windows 10 version 1903 and is active by default in all recent versions of Microsoft’s operating system.

Windows 10 provides administrators with several options when it comes to disabling the lockscreen blur. The following guide walks you through all available options.

This is probably the easiest option as it requires no changes to the Windows Registry or Group Policy.

  1. Open the Windows 10 Start Menu and select Settings, or use the keyboard shortcut Windows-I to open the Settings application directly.
  2. Go to Personalization > Colors
  3. Toggle the option “Transparency effects” so that its value is “Off”.

Note that this turns off all transparency effects on the system. Undo this by setting the value of Transparency effects to On.

Microsoft added an option to the Group Policy that provides a narrower solution as it is designed to show a clear background.

Note that the Group Policy Editor is not part of Home versions of Windows 10.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-R to open the run box.
  2. Type gpedit.msc and select OK to start the Group Policy Editor.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System > Logon.
  4. Double-click on “Show clear logon background”.
  5. Change the status of the policy to “Enabled” and click ok.

The policy’s description:

This policy setting disables the acrylic blur effect on logon background image. If you enable this policy, the logon background image shows without blur. If you disable or do not configure this policy, the logon background image adopts the acrylic blur effect.

Undo this by setting the policy to Disabled or Not Configured.

You can also edit the Windows 10 Registry to force the system to display a clear background on the lockscreen. The option is useful to Home users as they cannot use the Group Policy to do that.

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut Windows-R to open the run box.
  2. Type regedit.exe and select OK to start the Registry Editor.
  3. Go to Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System.
    1. If any of the keys do not exist, e.g. System, right-click on the previous key, e.g. Windows in the case of system and select New > Key to create it.
  4. Right-click on System and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
  5. Name it DisableAcrylicBackgroundOnLogon.
  6. Double-click on the newly created Dword and set its value to 1.
  7. Restart the computer.

Undo this by setting the value of the Dword DisableAcrylicBackgroundOnLogon to 0, or by deleting the Dword.

Closing Words

All three options work but you may favor the second and third options as they change the lockscreen behavior only while the first disables all transparency effects on the system.

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How to check whether your Chrome on Android is 32-bit or 64-bit

How to check whether your Chrome on Android is 32-bit or 64-bit

Google plans to migrate installations of the company’s Chrome web browser on Android from 32-bit to 64-bit in the near future. While the migration is limited to devices running Android 10 or newer, it should have a positive effect on the performance of the browser and security. Chrome users on Android may wonder whether their version of the web browser is a 32-bit or a 64-bit application to find out whether their version of Chrome has been migrated already.

Good news is that the process of finding out is relatively easy. All you need to do is load chrome://version in the mobile browser’s address bar to get information about the architecture and related information. Check the first line of the output on the page to find out whether the installed version of Chrome is 32-bit or 64-bit. The browser has been upgraded to the 64-bit version already if you see 64-bit listed in that line; if it still states 32-bit, you are still using a 32-bit version and need to wait for the migration to happen on the device.

The following screenshot shows a 32-bit version of Google Chrome Stable, currently at version 83, and a 64-bit version of Google Chrome Dev, currently at version 85, running on the same device.

Google Play, the official store for Android applications on most devices, does not provide options to download 32-bit or 64-bit versions of applications. There is no official option to migrate manually to the 64-bit version of Chrome if the 32-bit version is still installed or offered. Third-party sites that provide downloads for Android APK files may offer 64-bit versions of Google Chrome that users with Android 10 or newer versions of the operating system may install. While that may make sense in some cases, it is safer to wait for the official rollout of the feature.

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Firefox add-on behind lets you download any image that is behind the cursor

It is sometimes difficult to download certain elements from websites. Some sites use code that actively prevents the use of save options of the browser that is being used; many use Javascript for that, others try to force you to sign-up for an account before some functionality becomes available. The new Firefox add-on behind! has been designed as a workaround. It allows you to display and then download any image that is behind the cursor, even on sites that try to prevent this from happening.

All you need to do is install the extension in the browser, right-click on the image that you want to display fully or download, and select the behind! option of the right-click context menu. The extension opens a new tab and loads the selected image in that tab.

The extension may display multiple versions of the image on the opening page; this is the case if the site uses multiple versions, e.g. a small resolution one that it displays on the page and a larger one that it links to. You can look at the images and use built-in functionality to zoom the content or to save it. To save one of the images, right-click on the image and select the “save image as” option of the context menu to do so.

The developer of the extension lists a number of cases where the extension may help users. It can reveal:

  • Background images
  • Images under layers of nonsense (e.g. clickable surfaces designed to hide the image from you)
  • Embedded images / base64-encoded image chunks
  • Alternative resolutions
  • Vector images (even when they are inlined)
  • Images in shadow DOM

The extension has no options at the time of writing. It worked really well on all tested websites but a set of options would certainly make it more useful or flexible. An option to select the target action when selecting the behind! option comes into mind, e.g. to open the image in a foreground tab instead of  a background tab, or to download all images or the smallest/largest right away.

Other than that, it is a great extension for Firefox users who sometimes or often encounter sites that somehow block them from displaying or downloading images.

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USB Printer is missing on Windows 10 version 1903 and later (with workaround)

USB Printer is missing on Windows 10 version 1903 and later (with workaround)

If you run a device with Windows 10 version 1903 or later, e.g. Windows 10 version 2004, and use an USB printer, you may notice that the printer is sometimes missing when you try to print. The printer port is missing on affected devices. Windows 10 users may check the printer ports on the device in the following way: select Start > Settings (gear icon) > Devices > Printers & Scanners > Print Server Properties > switch to the Ports tab.

Check for any USB port in the list. The affected printer and the USB port that it is connected to should not be displayed on the page.

Microsoft describes the symptom in the following way:

If you connect a USB printer to Windows 10 version 1903 or later, then shut down Windows and disconnect or shut off the printer, when you start Windows again the USB printer port will not be available in the list of printer ports. The printer cannot be used for printing tasks or other tasks because of the missing USB printer port.

Microsoft lists the following cause for the issue:

If the driver for the USB printer contains a Language Monitor, the OpenPortEx callback function of the Language Monitor would not be called. As a result, the user cannot fulfill operations dependent on the operation of the Language Monitor. In the “Devices and Printers” control panel, when selecting [Print Server Properties] > [Port] tab, the port for the USB printer (such as “USB001”) would not appear in the list of printer ports. As a result, the user cannot fulfill operations dependent on the existence of the port.

There is a workaround for the issue, and it is quite easy to apply. All that needs to be done is to connect the USB printer to the PC and power it on before Windows is started. If that is done, Windows will recognize the USB printer and printing functionality as well as other functionality provided by the printer is available during the session.

Microsoft is working on a permanent fix for the issue and plans to release it as part of a future Windows 10 operating system update.

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Windows 10 version 2004 is here, and it has lots of issues

Windows 10 version 2004 is here, and it has lots of issues

Microsoft released Windows 10 version 2004, also known as the May 2020 Update. The new feature update for Microsoft’s Windows operating system is available for systems running Windows 10 version 1903 or 1909 only via Windows Update, and only if users click on the “check for updates” button to search for the new version manually.

Even then, it may not be offered to the system at that point in time because of issues identified on the system and because Microsoft is rolling it out over time. In other words: the update is only offered if Microsoft’s algorithm concludes that the device is ready for the update and if your device has been picked by Microsoft.

Microsoft published a long list of known issues that have not been resolved yet on the official Windows 10 release information page. A total of ten issues are listed on the page currently; many block the new feature upgrade from being offered to devices.

  1. Difficulty connecting to more than one Bluetooth device — Affects Windows 10 devices with certain Realtek Bluetooth radios. (update hold for affected devices)
  2. Errors or issues during or after updating devices with Conexant ISST audio drivers — Affects Windows 10 devices with Conexant ISST audio drivers (Conexant ISST Audio or Conexant HDAudio Driver) with file names file name uci64a96.dll through uci64a231.dll and file versions lower than 7.231.3.0. (update hold for affected devices)
  3. Errors or issues during or after updating devices with certain Conexant audio drivers — Devices with certain drivers may receive stop errors or bluescreens. Affected driver is Conexant HDAudio Driver, versions 8.65.47.53, 8.65.56.51, or 8.66.0.0 through 8.66.89.00 for chdrt64.sys or chdrt32.sys.
  4. Issues using ImeMode property to control IME mode for individual text entry fields — Issues with some applications that use the ImeMode property, e.g. automatic switching between input methods does not work.
  5. Variable refresh rate not working as expected on devices with Intel iGPU — Monitors with variable refresh rates (VRR) on systems with Intel integrated graphics processing unit display adapters may not work correctly. Microsoft notes that enabling VRR on affected devices won’t enable the feature for most games (especially when using DirectX 9.
  6. Stop error when plugging or unplugging a Thunderbolt dock — Stop error or bluescreen when plugging or unplugging a Thunderbolt dock. Affected devices have at least one Thunderbolt dock, Kernel DMA protection enabled and Windows Hypervisor Platform disabled. (update hold for affected devices)
  7. Errors or unexpected restarts for some devices using Always On, Always Connected — Devices that support the Always On, Always Connected feature may receive errors or unexpected shutdowns or restarts. Devices with more than one “Always On, Always Connected” capable network adapters are affected. (update hold for affected devices)
  8. No mouse input with apps and games using GameInput Redistributable — Incompatibilities with some games using GameInput Redistributable that causes them to lose mouse input. (update hold for affected devices)
  9. Issues updating or starting up devices when aksfridge.sys or aksdf.sys is present — Devices with aksfridge.sys or aksdf.sys drivers may cause the Windows 10 version 2004 upgrade to fail to install, or may prevent the system from starting after updating. (update hold for affected devices)
  10. Issue with older drivers for Nvidia display adapters (GPU) — Affected devices with Nvidia graphics cards may receive stop errors or bluescreens. Affects devices with driver version lower than 358.00. (update hold for affected devices)

Microsoft blocks updates on certain devices automatically but not all issues that Microsoft confirmed officially have an update block in place. It is a good idea to go through the list before you start to upgrade your devices.

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Mozilla installs Scheduled Telemetry Task on Windows with Firefox 75

Mozilla installs Scheduled Telemetry Task on Windows with Firefox 75

Observant Firefox users on Windows who have updated the web browser to Firefox 75 may have noticed that the upgrade brought along with it a new scheduled tasks. The scheduled task is also added if Firefox 75 is installed on a Windows device. The task’s name is Firefox Default Browser Agent and it is set to run once per day. Mozilla published a blog post on the official blog of the organization that provides information on the task and why it has been created.

According to Mozilla, the task has been created to help the organization “understand changes in default browser settings”. At its core, it is a Telemetry task that collects information and sends the data to Mozilla.

Here are the details:

  • The Task is only created if Telemetry is enabled. If Telemetry is set to off (in the most recently used Firefox profile), it is not created and thus no data is sent. The same is true for Enterprise telemetry policies if they are configured. Update: Some users report that the task is created while Telemetry was set to off on their machine.
  • Mozilla collects information “related to the system’s current and previous default browser setting, as w2ell as the operating system locale and version”.
  • Mozilla notes that the data cannot be “associated with regular profile based telemetry data”.
  • The data is sent to Mozilla every 24 hours using the scheduled task.

Mozilla added the file default-browser-agent.exe to the Firefox installation folder on Windows which defaults to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\.

Firefox users have the following options if they don’t want the data sent to Mozilla:

  • Firefox users who opted-out of Telemetry are good, they don’t need to make any change as the new Telemetry data is not sent to Mozilla; this applies to users who opted-out of Telemetry in Firefox or used Enterprise policies to do so.
  • Firefox users who have Telemetry enabled can either opt-out of Telemetry or deal with the task/executable that is responsible.
Disable the Firefox Default Browser Agent task

Here is how you disable the task:

  1. Open Start on the Windows machine and type Task Scheduler.
  2. Open the Task Scheduler and go to Task Scheduler Library > Mozilla.
  3. There you should find listed the Firefox Default Browser Agent task.
  4. Right-click on the task and select Disable.
  5. Note: Nightly users may see the Firefox Nightly Default Browser Agent task there as well and may disable it.

The task won’t be executed anymore once it is disabled.

Closing Words

The new Telemetry task is only introduced on Windows and runs only if Telemetry is enabled (which it is by default). Mozilla is transparent about the introduction and while that is good, I’d preferred if the company would have informed users about it in the browser after the upgrade to Firefox 75 or installation of the browser and before the task is executed the first time.

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