Quickly mute annoying autoplay videos

Quickly mute annoying autoplay videos

The single most annoying “feature” on webpages is autoplay.  How many times have you landed on a page, reading and suddenly some ad or music blares away.  Sometimes it’s impossible to find the offending ad , no matter how many times you scroll up and down looking. It’s worse if you have multiple browser tabs open, then you have to figure out which page is screaming at you.

There is a quick and oh so satisfying way of dealing with this. Edge, Firefox and Chrome all offer a quick mute feature that doesn’t even require you to know where the ad is.  Whichever page is playing the sound will show a small speaker either in front of or behind the page name. Here’s an example:

Scan of the mute button embedded in the browser tab

Skim along the top of the browser and locate the speaker and tap to mute the sound.  A small line will show the speaker has been turned off.

Screen capture of the speaker being muted

This doesn’t affect any other page you have open or music you may be listening to, just that webpage.  It’s handy to remember, especially if you’re like me and you constantly have multiple pages open (often on all three browsers).

There are a couple of small differences between the browsers. Microsoft Edge is the easiest to see. The speakers is well placed at the front of the page name.  Firefox is placed at the end, but still easy to hit. Chrome’s icon is much smaller and a bit fussier to try and hit. I’m not fond of it, but that is just a minor irritant.

ChromeMute

Unfortunately, this isn’t very useful for people with severe visual impairments or issues with their hands, like tremors. I have a few customers with  macular degeneration, Parkinson’s and MS who can’t hit that tiny a target consistently. The only solution I can think of is using the mute keyboard shortcut but, that mutes everything, which defeats the beauty of this little feature. If anyone has an extension that could help, drop me a line.  I’d love to take a look at it.

 

Finding alternative browsers for Surface RT

Finding alternative browsers for Surface RT

Updated Oct 6, 2020 – Unfortunately, choices for Surface RT tablets are very slim. Since writing this article in 2014, options for any older Surface RT tablet is almost non-existent. The operating system is too old to maintain.

Issues with Surface RT

A number of serious problems have cropped up with the RT version, including few viable app choices in the Microsoft Store (if you can get the store to run properly), being stuck with obsolete and potentially dangerous software and the lack of OneDrive support.  Microsoft has pretty much crippled what was, and still is an excellent tablet. I realise everything must come to an end, but I still have my original Surface RT. Until last Christmas, I was still using it for word processing and email.

IE is no longer supported and has been replaced with Edge, which, as many of you are already aware, will not run on a Surface RT. I was lucky, I downloaded and tried a number of browsers years ago, and they are still on the tablet. I used Bob and UC Browser until I replaced my Surface.

I recently checked to see if they were still available. I did spot Bob in the Microsoft Store but could no longer find UC or Your Browser. Bob, if you can get it, is still a better option than the existing IE.  Although not the nicest looking browser around, it will at least offer functionality and won’t crash every time you load a page, as IE does. It’s actually a bit of an ugly app.  I’ve left the original review down below.  You can find it here – Microsoft Store 

If you manage to download Bob and run it, drop a line in the comments below. Others would likely like to hear how it is working for you. Given the sheer volume of hits I get on this old article lately, I suspect a lot of other readers need to hear about your experiences.

UC Browser is still in the store, but Surface RT no longer meets the minimum requirements. UC now requires Win10 at a minimum to run. It’s still a pretty good browser so check it out if you are looking for an alternative to the usual suspects.

I suspect Your Browser has gone the way of the Dodo. I could find no reference to it in the MS Store, so you are down to one possible option. I searched extensively for browser options, but came up empty.

Inexpensive option to replace Surface RT

Just after Christmas 2019, I had to make the hard decision to replace my much loved Surface RT. I opted for an inexpensive Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 laptop. It’s one of those hybrid laptop and tablet combos. Touchscreen, Windows 10s with the option to upgrade to regular Win10, nice keyboard, works exceptionally well as a tablet. I’m pleased as hell with it. I didn’t opt for any bells and whistles, because to me, it’s a workhorse.

If you want to stay with the Windows platform but don’t want to bust your budget, I’d recommend taking a look at one. I only paid $300 plus taxes (on sale) so was affordable. It’s a pretty good device. Not fast when it comes comes to browsing the internet, but that’s not a serious issue with me. I do light photo editing on it, works very well with Adobe Spark, email, spreadsheet, I have access to all my OneDrive files on the go. Yea, it’s a good little tablet/laptop hybrid. I get a lot of writing done on it.

If you have the budget, pop for a little more power if you want it to compete with the old Surface, but otherwise, a good option to look at Dell Inspiron. You an also opt for the full Windows 10 version right out of the box.

 Original article starts here

One irritate with Surface RT tablets is the lack of alternatives to IE.  I’m not a particular fan of IE. Most frustration stems from webpages built around other browsers, which become non functional in IE.  Yahoo mail is one such site. The latest corporate botch job from Yahoo pretty much locked people out of their account because the login site doesn’t always work with IE.

The site will accept your login name, but won’t accept your password. It kicks back a password error, even when you confirm (on another computer) you are using the correct password.  I’ve fielded a number of complaints from customers having this problem. Yahoo is whacky at the best of times, but their new improved interface is a travesty of bad design.

The other irritant is the inability to use drop down menus on certain sites. A quirk in the design mean the menus will pop and disappear before you can tap an link. You can use a mouse with Surface tablets, but being forced to use a mouse because of bad designs defeats the purpose of a touch screen tablet.

You don’t have a lot of choice of when it comes to replacements.  If you need an alternative, or simply don’t like IE, you have 3 choices – Bob Browser, Your Browser and UC.

Icon for an alternative browser for Surface RT - Bob Browser

Yup, that’s Bob, getting ready to flash you

Bob Browser

Well in a pinch, you could use Bob.  It’s adequate, barely.   Yup, that icon is Bob – the Dude in a plastic rain coat and a condom on his head.   Bob suffers from serious design flaws such as a quirky spot for typing in the address, no bookmark capabilities and zero configuration options. It’s basically what Bob thinks you need.  It does have a large  visible gear that looks like it’s a configuration option, but it leads to pretty, well .. much nothing. I guess it’s decorative. I keep Condom Bob installed in the hopes the designer makes some substantial updates. It shows pages correctly and they load ok  – two crucial features. It also accesses pages IE won’t load correctly, but the bad design keeps me from using it on a daily basis.

Icon for an old, defunct browser called Your Browser.

Bit of a sad little icon

Your Browser

Yup, that boring little icon to the right is the Your Browser icon. It pretty much represents the entire browser – pedestrian. It’s a serviceable option – loads pages quickly, kept the address bar at the top (and easy to find, unlike Bob). It suffers from the same drawbacks – lack of bookmarks or ability to tinker with settings. Oh and it comes with an intensely distracting theme that you can’t change. You get palm trees, whether you want them or not. It does open the pesky sites that IE doesn’t deal with and is a slightly better option than Bob, but it’s shortcomings will prevent it from ever becoming popular.

Icon for UC Browser

Still a good browser, but won’t work on Surface RT

The last offering is a little browser called UC Browser. It serves up all the bits missing from YB and Bob. It has both bookmarks and speed dial to let you access your favourite sites quickly.  It’s pretty fast in loading pages, gets around those design issues with sites like Yahoo Mail logon. It also has a few options you can set to customise how the browser behaves, including an option to change the browser background to one of your own photos.

Browsing history is easy to access, an option to sync bookmarks (which would be handy if you are using UC cross platform). It did take me a few seconds to figure out how their bookmark system works. My only complaint is it’s a three step process – click on the star pull up the bookmarks, then right click (or swipe up if) to access the bookmark menu, then either tap the star to create the bookmark or create a new folder to put it in.  Not really a big deal because it allows you to keep bookmarks tidy as you go along.

UC is quite capable of replacing IE for day to day use. It’s also available for Apple and Android devices as well. You can download it, free, directly from the App stores.