Bitter Grounds - espresso fueled ramblings

Monday, March 19, 2018

App reviews

Read & Write literacy extension for MS Edge - help for vision impaired & learning disabilities

Icon for Read & Write browser extensionI’m always poking around the Microsoft store looking for Edge browser extensions. Until now, the offerings have been a wee bit slim. But… huzzah … a few new extensions have found their way to the store. I tested out two and, well, I’m impressed. You get one today, maybe the other on the weekend...  depends on my mood. Read & Write, from TextHelp (, gets a nod for the single most useful extension I’ve seen to date. It's also available for Firefox and Chrome if those flavours suit you more.

Read & Write is an excellent piece of assistive technology that reads webpages. People with vision issues, reading or learning disabilities or learning English will find this immensely useful.  Once installed, you have a number of options that include reading a page or paragraph, simplified page layout, definitions and reference lookups.  The voice is fairly easy to listen to and understand. The odd word is not quite right, but mostly above par for pronunciation and enunciation. One mildly amusing aspect with any software like this is they read literally - if there's a typo on the page, that will be read.

Read more: Read & Write literacy extension for MS Edge - help for vision impaired & learning disabilities

MS Edge extension - turn off the lights & watch a movie

Icon for Turn off the Lights Edge browser extension

If you enjoy watching movies & Youtube on Edge browser, this is a cool extension - Turn off the Lights, by Stefan VD. It's a handy little extension that dims the background around the video window, cutting out distractions. Here's what it looks like:

Screen capture showing Turn out the Lights extension

I've been using it for about 2 weeks and have encountered only one issue - it popped out and stopped working until I shut Edge down and restarted it. Other than the one instance, I've had no other problems. Get it the usual way, Microsoft Store ->Extensions->Turn off the Lights. Once installed, it sits on the screen's toolbar within easy clicking distance. 

Download the extension here: Turn off the lights


The image still is from Professor Quatermass and the Pit - BBC sci fi serial from the 1950s. One of the best sci fi series ever made. Go watch it ... no .. go .. now... Watch it.  Where else can you see extinct giant Martian grasshoppers destroying humanity?

Finally, an Edge browser extension worth a look – flick that mouse

Store logo for Mouse Gestures extension for Edge browserAlthough the offerings for Edge browser extensions are sparse at the moment, there are a couple worth looking at. One to consider is Mouse Gestures.  It enables a series of right click actions that make speeding about web pages and tabs easier. The extension loads 16 preset flicks that allow you to move forward and back between webpages, hop from one tab to another and improve scrolling on longer pages.

Once installed and enabled, all you need to do is hold the right mouse button down and move the mouse in a specific motion. To go back to a previous web page, hold the right mouse button and flick to the left. Go forward, right mouse and flick right.  If you are a Surface Pro user, Mouse Gestures supports pen gestures. My favourite gestures are the ability to hop from one tab to another or closing a tab when you’re done with it and refreshing the page with a quick flick of the mouse:

Screen view of some advanced mouse gestureAnother feature worth noting is the ability to scroll to the top or bottom of an article quickly. Using a combined down and up gesture will move you to the top instantly. A quick up and down gesture moves you to the bottom of the page. It doesn’t work that well on those endless scroll pages though.  Something about them confuses the gesture. It’s okay flicking down, you go about a page length at a time, but if you try to scroll to the top of the page, you end up further down the page or somewhere random. This didn’t happen on all sites, but the majority I tried behaved a bit funky.

There isn’t a lot of customisation available, but you can turn off features you don’t want such as the visible mouse trail as you flick. You can also deactivate gestures you don’t use. Hold the right button down and start gesturing slowly will pop up a handy tool tip window to remind you of what gestures are available. Once you’ve memorized the gestures you need, you can shut tips off and not be bothered by them.

Read more: Finally, an Edge browser extension worth a look – flick that mouse

MS Edge extension - Pinterest button at last

Extensions are slowly (oh soooo slowly) trickling into the Microsoft Store. There are a couple worth picking up, including today's offering - the long awaited Pinterest Pin It extension. I missed having that handy little pin it feature when I moved over to Edge. It installs as expected and works pretty well. For avid Pinterest users, this is an essential extension.

Go to the Microsoft Store and either look up Edge Extensions or search Pinterest to down load it.  Once installed, go back to Edge and you'll be greated with a message to turn it on. Click on the button and you're good to go. Happy pinning.

Pinterest Pin It now available for Edge

Extensions for Microsoft Edge at last .... whoops not so fast

Microsoft's anniversary edition includes an update to the Edge browser that allows the installation of extensions. Omitting them was one of the more irritating "features" of the original Windows 10 release. Pickings are incredibly slim with only 13 offered. Kind of .... maybe .... confused? So am I. In the Extensions category, there are 13 listed. However, some aren't categorised correctly and are available instore. Microsoft's Personal Shopping Assistant is available, but doesn't show up under extensions, nor does a search specifically for extensions produce any results. Sigh ...  

How do you install them? Look up at the top right corner and click on the 3 dots:

Image of the more button for Microsoft Edge browser

Slide your mouse down the list and click once on Extensions -> Get Extensions from the Store. Wait a few seconds and the Microsoft Store will open to the extensions page.  Or open the store app, click on Collections and scroll down to Extensions. Click on the one you want and it will install automatically.

To view, change or delete an extension, return to the Extensions menu. Right clicking on the extension will allow you to delete or change the options.  Pretty straight forward, but we'll have to sit around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the category to fill up. I'll add extension reviews here on the App Reviews section when they start showing up.

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Catpaw with a pint & a typical bad haircutTime for a new look - the venerable cat on a postage stamp is now retired. As much as I loved him, it was time for a face lift - bad haircut & all. 

"The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself."

- Albert Camus

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