A couple of handy computer tools

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Today I’m going to show you a couple of things that you might find to be pretty handy. Nothing fancy really, but each of these could definitely be a solution for someone that’s in need of either one of them.

solution

 

Tool #1: Simple countdown timer

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Just go to Google, and in the search box type:

timer 1 minute

and hit Enter on the keyboard. Right away you will see a countdown timer at the top of the Google search results. But you don’t have to click on it or do anything else – it is already running, counting down from one minute.

countdown timer

 

Right under the numbers you will see the link to Stop, if you want to pause the timer. Or you can reset it back to 1 minute. When the timer gets down to zero, it sounds a little beeping alarm that sounds like a digital alarm clock. Easy and free.

You can set the time for any number of minutes or hours up to 23 hours. I couldn’t get it to work when I tried putting in 24 hours, but I didn’t mess around with it for very long so maybe there’s a way to do that.

How would you use this? The possibilities are unlimited. For me, I try to take a break from working at my computer sometimes, but I don’t want to get sucked into Facebook or YouTube for so long that it becomes a big waste of time. So when I take a break, I just open up a new tab in my browser and start the countdown timer for 5 or 10 minutes, and when I hear the beep I get back to work. But really, anything you do that needs to be tracked for time is a potential use for it.

 

Tool #2: Video blocker

This is an extension that works with Chrome and Firefox. I love this little thing because it solves an annoying problem.

The problem has to do with YouTube. YouTube tries to be smart about what videos it offers you when you first go to the site. If you’re subscribed to any particular YouTube channels, it will often display new videos from those channels. It tries to display up front the videos it THINKS you want to see, based on what videos you’ve looked at previously. So if you watched some videos about football yesterday, then when you go to YouTube today, you’ll see that they’ll show you some links to some other football videos. They’re just trying to give you what you want, in order to keep you on the site and viewing videos as long as possible. That, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing.

The problem arises when I might click to view a video that outside my typical areas of interest. For example, a friend might tell me, “Hey, you have to check out this video of this guy – he’s the best man at his brother’s wedding and for the Best Man Toast, he SINGS a song that he wrote himself!” And to be fair, it is a pretty amazing video that has recently gone viral. You can watch it on YouTube, and right below the video itself are the lyrics so you can follow along.

So if I watch that video today, then later today or tomorrow when I go back to YouTube, it’s likely that the front page is going to be offering me more wedding videos. Actual full weddings, dancing at wedding receptions, people falling down at weddings, wedding photography services, and on and on.

YouTube

 

This might even continue for days and weeks – every time I go to YouTube I have to wade through all the wedding-related videos in order to see the things that I actually want to see.

Video Blocker solves that problem. When you have Video Blocker installed, you can go to YouTube and right-click on any video thumbnail, and you are given the option to block all the videos from that particular channel from being displayed.

video blocker

 

It’s great! So now, with the help of this little tool, I can have some actual control over what gets displayed whenever I open up YouTube to see what’s new.

To get Video Blocker, do a Google search for video blocker. If you’re using Chrome, you would want the Chrome extension:

video blocker for chrome

If you’re using Firefox, get the Firefox version:

video blocker for firefox

When you click the link to get it, it will ask you to install it as a browser extension or add-on. Go ahead and do that, then restart Chrome or Firefox and go exploring YouTube and try it out.

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Suzanne van der Merwe
April 20th, 2015

Hello Scott

I don’t do YouTube etc.
Still ,I read your written version and could see clearly how it could be of use
to computer users.
especially the Video blockers.
The timer I don’t need, but it is good to know!
It is nifty!

Best,
Suzanne

Moe Beaudin
April 20th, 2015

Hi Scott:
I typed in 23 hours, 59 and it automatically showed under the search box 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Guess that’s as close as you can get to 24 hours. If you type in 24 hours the timer shows up showing all zero’s. Thanks for the timer info. Good to know. Have a great day.
Moe