Ad Removal #1: Remove Distracting YouTube Sidebar

Ever wanted to remove that YouTube sidebar so you could focus on the video you are watching? Maybe you just want to watch one cat video instead of twenty. Maybe you’re wondering how a quick search for how to fix a car issue turned into a research project on excavators tipping over in quicksand. Or maybe the recommended videos are not at all the videos you want to see. Fear no more, this short tutorial will teach you how to remove the YouTube sidebar in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Sorry Internet Explorer users – please download a web browser and stop using bloatware.

The div that holds the recommended / related videos is #watch7-sidebar

Firefox

A quick use of the Firefox inspector tool reveals that the div that holds the recommended / related videos is named #watch7-sidebar. Download and install Stylish from the Mozilla plugins store by clicking on the following link.

Download from Mozilla Plugin Directory

Restart Mozilla Firefox and press Ctrl + Shift + A (Cmd + Shift + A on a Mac) Click on “User Styles” and create a new style. Name it “YouTube Sidebar” or whatever you like. Now, insert the following code:

@-moz-document domain("youtube.com") {
   #watch7-sidebar {
      display:none;
   }
}

Save the script and make sure it is enabled. Refresh YouTube. Now you should be able to get some work done without getting sidetracked!

Chrome

The process for removing the sidebar in Google Chrome is quite similar to that of Mozilla Firefox. Simply click the following link and download Stylish from the Chrome Web Store.

Download from Chrome Web Store

Type “chrome://extensions” in the address bar to visit the extensions page. Find Stylish and click Options > Write New Style.

Place the following code in, apply it to “Domains starting with” youtube.com and save the style.

 #watch7-sidebar {
      display:none;
   }

The YouTube sidebar should now disappear.

Safari

Removing the YouTube Sidebar in Apple Safari is as easy as the two aforementioned browsers. Download Stylish for Safari by clicking this link:

Download Stylish for Safari

Install Stylish and click the Stylish icon next to the address bar. Click Manage Styles and write a new style. Paste the following code:

 #watch7-sidebar {
      display:none;
   }

Apply the style to the domain youtube.com and save it with whatever title you choose.

Conclusion

Stylish is a powerful tool for manipulating the CSS of websites. In this case, we used Stylish to set the display property of the YouTube to none, therefore making it invisible. Stylish is useful to hide elements or restyle them. For example, you can change the default Google logo on google.com by using Stylish to change the #hplogo properties. Happy styling! Next post will be about removing the ads from Spotify.

The “Hour of code” myth

Recently, person number twenty million finished an “hour of code” at code.org

This marks a fairly significant number in a trend that will apparently continue to grow: websites that try to simplify the task of learning code for the masses. For the past year, websites like codecademy.org, code.org, and codeyear.com have been dominating the blogosphere, beckoning people to come in and pick up a bit of JavaScript, or Python – nothing to it! Anybody can code – or so we are told…

I used to find this a fairly agreeable sentiment, and to my shame, parroted the idea that everybody should learn a bit of code to my own family. However, my opinion changed after reading a fascinating piece at Coding Horror, and the subsequent discussions.

Since then, I have thought more about the issue. And now, it’s my job to step in and be a cynic. The people who think that everybody should learn how to code are WRONG. I especially dislike the idea that it should be taught in schools.

That’s what I say! And here’s why:

1. Coding is not a life skill. And I am tired of people pretending it is! Some subjects at school are fundamental to the way that human beings live. Take reading for example: this one ought to be a given. But believe it or not, I actually have heard people argue that reading is not a necessary life skill. In other words, you could live without it.

But reading represents the fundamental way that humans preserve and transport information. Whether you use hieroglyphics to do this task, or the English alphabet, is irrelevant. People in a given society ought to know what reading is and how to do it – obviously, they will have to use the alphabet and language of their culture. But, regardless of specific languages and scripts, the fact remains that reading itself IS fundamental.

On the flip side, coding is NOT fundamental to life, regardless of what coding language a programmer chooses to use. Coding uses the fundamental concepts of information preservation and transmission, builds on them by adding logic and mathematics, and uses complicated machines to do it.

2. “Coding” is not even how computers basically work. There is a very silly myth going around that if you learn some code, you’ll finally understand how it is your computer does stuff. But the code people have been talking about – languages like C, C++, Java – are all third generation computer languages! This means that they are built on top of second generation programming languages, which are based on earlier languages, down and down to machine code – the little 1s and 0s that actually go through logic gates, and do all the magical stuff that computers do.

People who type commands using code somehow have the idea that they are closer to the true computer than somebody using an interface – but this just isn’t really true. The difference between somebody who bosses a computer around by clicking on an icon, and the person who types in a command is essentially illusory: and that’s the whole reason GUIs were invented. Interfaces merely simplify the task of executing computer functions. Third generation programming languages do the EXACT same thing.

People who want to actually understand how computers work must go deeper than code – especially this kind of code. They must engage in actual computer science. But nobody would advocate going that far in general education. Certainly, nobody would campaign for “an hour of information theory”, or any simple dabbling in the kind of high profile studies which accompany an understanding of computing. But unfortunately, that is the logical conclusion of wanting to understand how computers REALLY work.

3. Coding will probably not help you to do anything useful. I will make ONE exception: it’s probably good for everybody to know a little bit of HTML. Why? Because it can be used on a daily basis, by any average Internet user. A little bit of HTML to spice up a blog, and give it a break from the same old same old, or some nifty stylization on a forum post, email, etc. are ALL realistic, every day applications of web code. But just about anything else will not improve an average user’s computer experience. Knowing Java, JavaScript, C, or C++ will not help the average person to do anything other than pound out some commands in a test prompt at code.org

Knowing code gives you the basic tools to write PROGRAMS, which is a far bigger pursuit – one which will be carried out by people who are serious about programming. It’s a big job to plan, write, then debug a program – not something the average user is going to do. Nor would he want to! That’s why, until now, nobody has advocated that everybody go and learn “an hour of code”.

Most people with the will to do it will have done it with or without code.org, or its compatriots.

Finally, don’t get me wrong: there ARE things people need to know about computers. Computers are the way of the world.

But coding is only the pipework! We think everybody should know how to use a sink, bathtub, and toilet – even take care of them, unplug them, and keep them clean. But we don’t expect that people will learn “an hour of plumbing”, or anything similar.

The point is this: botnets are running rampant, and millions of computers are under the control of malicious hackers. Only this month, Microsoft busted a a single botnet which was, by itself, running on two million PCs. Thousands of routers still use WEP encryption. Many thousands more use default passwords, which make for a catastrophic security breach.

Simply put, people still need to learn how to use computers correctly. This would make for a very reasonable addition to public education. People need to learn better security habits: how to stay away from malware, hackers, and scammers, and how to keep their digital environments safe and efficient.

Maybe after people know this, we can worry about coding.

“Sympathize” Button Adds Emotion to Facebook?

Your Grandma just died, and you post pictures of her funeral on Facebook. One particularly insensitive friend sees your heartbreaking post and quickly taps the like button. You see the unkind jab and are immediately devastated. But wait -  maybe your friend actually was sympathizing with you! Either way, you don’t know. That’s all about to change; that is, if Facebook releases the “Sympathize” button. According to Facebook engineer Dan Muriello’s plans, you’d now have an option on that sad post to let Facebook know that it’s a sad post. Your friends would be spared the dreadful mistake of “liking” it, considering the replacement of the “Like” button with the “Sympathize” button. Of course, all these plans are still only ideas and may never be implemented.

If, and when Facebook implements this technology, will it be used for Grandma’s funeral or for a picture of what you had for dinner? Also, if Facebook should enable a sympathize button, shouldn’t there be a dislike button? Frankly, this would not be one of Facebook’s most groundbreaking accomplishments. Make way for Google+!

When the virtual becomes reality: consequences of a digital world, and the growing need for cyber security

This last week has been very eventful for the tech world, and full of lively debate. When Amazon announced its plans to create drones that will be used to automatically deliver packages to customers in the not-so-distant future, skepticism abounded.

Can this system really be useful, or feasible?

drone

Drone technology has a futuristic vibe to it. The vision of people walking down the sidewalk (already prepped with touch screen phones, and Google glasses overlaying  virtual reality into their field of sight) glancing casually up at the sky as the busy hum of business robots fill the air is simply too whimsical. One is reminded of The Jetsons.

But caution should be used before writing off the technology as overly ambitious or unrealistic. As we have seen in the last decade, technology which was at one point a gimmick is often the way of the world – take for instance pocket computers, touch screens, voice interfaces, and (now it seems) augmented reality.

My concerns for Amazon’s technology lie elsewhere: how it could potentially be abused.

There is already a lot of doubt surrounding drones – they’re associated with spying, and government meddling. Who wants a whole package of cameras and sensors flying directly over their homes and land?

What’s even worse: even if protective laws were implemented, and penalties were enforced for abuse, how could people possibly demonstrate the offences? One assumes that a video-recording drone looks an awful lot like a regular delivery drone.

One bit of news this week which didn’t quite ‘fly’ over the tech radar was a concerning project by notorious-hacker-turned-security-researcher Sammy Kamkar, infamous for his creation of the “Samy Worm” in 2005.

The project, called ‘SkyJack’, is described by Kamkar on a page of the same name:

“Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.”

This opens up a range of concerning possibilities.

Amazon drones are unlikely to fly completely automatically -  quadcopters and similar vehicles are not yet nimble enough for such regular excursions. If a remote pilot is necessary to oversee the drone’s functions, then it is clear that Kamkar’s research demonstrates a real threat to the safety of airborne merchandise.

However, even if such delivery systems are fully automatic, a study performed at the University of Texas this year indicates that the drone could still be vulnerable. In the study, researchers managed to steer an entire yacht off course, not by changing the route or hacking into the navigational computer, but by broadcasting false GPS signals in order to make the ship believe it was going in one direction, when it was actually being led somewhere entirely different.

In both cases, we see a clear potential for Amazon drones to be compromised. And that is bad news – imagine jewelry, electronics, and other valuables being funneled from their intended destination. Not only could the merchandise be intercepted, but so could the drone, causing trouble both for Amazon and for the consumer.

But the problem manifest here transcends Amazon specifically – drones aren’t the only automatic vehicles that are currently under development. It has been over a year since a blind man drove through a fast food drive-thru, with the services of Google’s driverless car. Since then, autonomous cars have been legalized in no less than three states!

Simulation is becoming reality. Programs don’t just manage simulations and video games, anymore. Algorithms are being put to practical use. The abstract is becoming concrete.

Now, a program crash could mean a head on collision. A hacker could become a murderer.

With all these advances, I suggest that we should spend less time bickering over whether these things will come to pass, and more time figuring out what will happen if and when they do! Laws need to be passed. Security researchers need to be hired, in the public and private sector. Consumers and businesses alike need to be educated about keeping their systems safe, and uncompromised.

There isn’t a need to fear technology, as long as we manage it properly. That’s why I am not terrified of Amazon Drones, but I do worry whether we will be prepared to handle them if they become reality.

Nexus 5, by LG

Several pictures were leaked last week that contained various images of the new Nexus 5, which were suppose to be for the listing of the LG G2.

Source: AndroidPolice

The successor to the Nexus 4 , the Nexus 5 (points for creativity), was inside the leaked pictures with a LG sticker on the back. If you have been following the Nexus 5, you would know that it should be based of the newly released LG G2.

Although there has been controversy regarding LG compared to more popular brands such as Samsung or Apple, the LG G2 boasts a top-of-the-line phone in the form of a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon CPU and an Adreno 330 GPU. The screen is 5.1 inches, and instead of the more popular hardware buttons, uses software buttons. And to top it off, 2 gigabytes of RAM, for even the most extreme multitasker.

The LG G2 has had almost exclusively positive reviews upon release, and if the Nexus 5 is based off of it, that can only mean good news to Google. The screen for the Nexus 5 has been revealed to be smaller than the G2 (5″ screen) but that could possibly be a better thing, as it might feel more comfortable in the palm of your hand.

The huge issue however, seems to be when Google told the world that the Nexus 5 will only have a 2,300mAh battery. Newer phones such as the Xperia Z1 as well as the LG G2, has 3,000mAh. The Galaxy S4 has 2,600. Compared to those figures, 2,300mAh is quite low for a flagship phone, which may prove to be a deal-breaker when compared to its stronger counterparts. It heavily depends on the pricing that Google is going for, as well as the software (KitKat)

The release date for the Nexus 5 hasn’t been revealed yet, although it is heavily speculated by Ausdroid, who claims to have a very reliable source that the date of both releases (The Nexus 5 and Android 4.4, KitKat) will be October 14th (my birthday!).

I’m leaning more towards the G2 still, I still do not know what KitKat will bring besides “performance tweaks”, and the 3,000mAh battery as well as its larger screen makes it more appealing, to me, at least. What do you guys think? Given the choice, what would you pick?

Introducing the iPhone 5S – hilarious parody

Channel ‘Matthias’ has produced and uploaded a hilarious parody on the Apple iPhone 5S, which you can watch below.

The video pokes fun at Apple’s upcoming 5S and 5C, and the media circus surrounding it. The yearly ritual never ceases to enchant some, or mystify others. While bigger updates to Apple products, such as the iPhone 2 and 4, have brought in significant new features and upgrades, others – like the 4S – proved barely any different from their predecessors.

The video briefly jabs at the iPhone 5C, an upcoming cheaper, multicolored version of the famed smartphone.

The release date for the 5C and 5S have not been confirmed by any official sources, but the products are expected to debut at a September 10 event called by Apple.

While the next generation iPhone will almost certainly be a 5S rather than a 6, it may not be as boring an upgrade as Matthias predicts. Among other things, the next iPhone may include a fingerprint scanner, NFC, and wireless charging. All the same, the Matthias pattern certainly is not unusual, and typifies many iPhone releases.

Google Argues for Gmail Users’ Surveillance

Internet giant, Google, tried to crumble the virtual foundations of wiretapping and privacy laws this Thursday, according to this article by the Calgary Herald. Apparently, Google has been scanning the contents of users’ emails to provide user-specific advertising. Though the company claims that all the emails are processed by a computer and never read by humans, the fact remains that at least one Google engineer has abused his power by spying on teens using Google Voice and GMail. Those who trust all their internet usage to Google, such as searches, emails, social activities (Google+), and voice calls or texts (Google Voice); should think twice about their privacy. According to a quote from a Google attorney, users should expect that they do not have a high level of privacy when using GMail. If you or your friends are conspiracy theorists, I recommend using Yahoo! Mail. Or, if you simply like the idea of people not reading your private correspondence.

Will we see 6″ iPhablets next year?

iphone10

According to some rumors coming from the Wall Street Journal, Apple may be testing prototypes of 4.8″ and 6″ iPhones. Just me talking, a 6″ screen is way too big, especially without increasing the width. Of course we all know where this idea is coming from, Apple’s main rival, Samsung.

Head on over to the WSJ to read more!

[Source: WSJ]

Yahoo reveals new logo

Following 30 days of fake logos to hype up the reveal, Yahoo rolled out their new logo today, and related the design process that apparently went into the thing, which would put Jony Ive to shame.

Yahoo

Nobodycares

Happy Birthday, iPod Touch!

On this day 6 years ago (Sept 5th 2007), the iPod Touch was released at the music event called The Beat Goes On. This wasn’t too far out from the June arrival of the iPod’s big brother, the ever-cooler iPhone. As almost anyone knows an iPod Touch is basically an iPhone with no cellular signal. And yes, for you hardware junkies, there are quite a few less noticeable differences in the hardware. Steve Jobs called the iTouch, “Training wheels for the iPhone.”[1]

apple_ipod_touch

But we’ve seen a lot of changes through the years in the iTouch, haven’t we? the first generation iPod was quite bit thicker, (I know this is subjective but) uglier, didn’t have a camera or even a speaker. Even now there isn’t that much attention directed at the iPod Touch, it seems its always the other iOS device. It isn’t marketed as heavily as the iPhone and iPad, and many features supported by those two aren’t supported by the iTouch. However it seems to have a pretty big following from people who want an iPhone with no monthly bill.

Source: TUAW