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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 0
A simple way to find everything a website is running, the technology or the widget they are using. Have you ever come across a nice looking website or eStore that might appeal to your taste and needs and has a great widget for subscriptions, using a trendy and responsive WordPress theme, applying a beautiful font or configured with a simple and faster eCommerce solution. Have you ever wondered on how to find which web hosting company a website is using or which payment gateway it has integrated or which WordPress theme or Plug-ins a website is running. Let me tell you, you are not the only one trying to discover these information as there are thousands of  Web developers, Designers, Webmasters or Digital Marketing professionals who are looking for the same information to get ahead of their competitors. Not surprisingly, these are the questions we can find ourselves using some simple tools or browsers extensions while browsing those website or eStore. In this post I will be introducing you with some simple and industries's best tools that will help you always in finding the Widgets, WordPress theme, Real Font name or the Web Hosting provider a website is using.
Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using
GIF Source WhatRuns.Com - A simple browser extension that tells you everything a website is running

How to find the technologies used on websites?

We can use some simple tools in the form of a browser extension or a website that uncovers the technology behind a site. These tools actually scan the source code, look for the files and folder hierarchy, read the html comments, analyze the frameworks and finally show the results. The results include the Widgets and theme used by a website, Javascript Frameworks, Analytics and other Programming languages running on a website, Font Script installed and other details useful for a developer or designer.
Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using with WhatRuns
Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using with WhatRuns

Here are 5 best web tools to find out technologies used by a website.

1. WhatRuns

This is a new browser extension tool which was launched just two months ago and due to its better detection accuracy and capability to recognize even the latest fonts and plugins compared to other similar product it has got featured on the first page of Chrome Webstore. Almost 13K users have already installed it in just withing two months. Out of my curiosity, I also installed it to check if it detects the tools I am using on my new site slowmacshooters.com and to my surprise, It gave me all the correct information. Being a lightweight on your browser and due to providing a detailed user friendly information it stands out from the crowd. I found it as the best option.
WhatRuns Extension that helps you identify Wordpress theme and more
WhatRuns Extension that helps you identify Wordpress theme and more
It can help you identify all the web technologies used on any website such as Wordpress Theme, Widgets, JavaScript Frameworks, Fonts, tools for comments,reviews and Live Chat, Web Server, eCommerce Platforms and Payment processor running on a website and much more. As of writing, it is only available as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. You can download it from Chrome Web Store or from Mozilla Ad-Ons Library. Just click on its icon on the upper right side of the browser while you are visit any website and it will reveal the technologies that the website is using. You can also add a website in your follow list and get notified when the website uses a new technology or removes an older one.

Note: It does not support intranet sites or local files as of now. So if you are testing it on a website running on intranet which works only at your works,you might not get the correct answer.

2. BuiltWith

It's another powerful tool which is almost 10 years old now. It is available as both browser extension and an online Web Tool that allows you to check the details of the technology a website is using just by typing the website address in the search box located at the upper right corner of the page. It also shows you almost everything such as Content Management System, Framework, Advertising used, Analytics and tracking, Content Delivery Network, Domain name and Hosting provider, Shipping Provider and Widgets used. It also provides you with some advanced information under Detailed Technology Profile tab but that is limited with Trial as you need to purchase their premium service for unlimited lookup.
BuiltWith Online tool to uncover the technologies behind any website
BuiltWith Online tool to uncover the technologies behind any website
It is also available as an extension for ChromeFirefoxSafari and Microsoft Edge browsers. Add it to your browser then visit any website and Simply click on its icon in the browser tool bar menu at the top of the page and it will show the information in a drop down.

3. Wappalyzer

Wappalyzer as a browser extension gives you a quick detail of a website which include Widgets, Fonts, Analytics and Trackers, Advertising Partner, Web Server type, CDN, Marketing automation tool and much more. It doesn't give you a detailed information on all the tools a website is using but still can be used for finding brief information for quick comparison.
Wappalyzer a powerful tool to find CMS, Platform or Technology used by a Website
Wappalyzer a powerful tool to find CMS, Platform or Technology used by a Website
This tool is available as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

4. W3Techs

W3Techs is another powerful online Internet research tool that digs deep and gives you detailed information of a website. You get the following information in a tabular form:
W3Techs to find out what tools any website is using
W3Techs to find out what tools any website is using
  • Popularity rank according to Alexa
  • Main Visitors Locations
  • Server Side Programming Language
  • JavaScript Library
  • Details about CSS and Image Format used
  • Traffic Analysis Tool
  • Advertising Network
  • Server Location
  • Content-Management System
  • Web Hosting Provider for Some Website
A site info generated by W3Techs
A site info generated by W3Techs
It is also available as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.


Netcraft is not just an online internet research tool but also an anti-phishing and risk evaluator. They have also earned their name in Anti-Phishing community and provided services to small and medium organizations. It doesn't only tell you about the technology and programming language a website is using but also the Hosting provider, Server Location, Risk Rating of every site you visit. Following are some useful information that you can get from Netcraft's site report tool. You just need to type the domain name or website address in the search box on online web tool and hit enter to get the following information.
  • Site rank, Date first seen and Primary language
  • Domain registrar, Nameserver and Hosting company
  • Web Analytics and Trackers used by a website
  • Client and Server-Side programming language
  • Risk rating and Block list
  • Framework and CMS
  • HTTP Compression and Encoding
Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using with Netcraft
Discover what all Tools and Plug-ins a website is using with Netcraft
It is also available as browser extensions for ChromeFirefox and Opera.

I hope that will be enough on such tools to find out a lot of information a website is built with.Though there are hundreds of tools available to uncover the technologies behind any website but I have mentioned the industry's best tool above. They will get a clearer idea of how an eCommerce site or a niche blog are built. If there is another easier trick that you know to find out all the tools and Plug-ing a website is using, I'd love to hear that and appreciate you sharing that in comment section below. 
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to Hide or Turn Off Comments on a per webpage basis?

Sunday, July 23, 2017 0
Every modern website has a user comment section these days and it has become an additional source of information as different users share their experience and let others know about the quality of a product, advise, and alternative options. Comments come in different forms, YouTube Video comments, Product reviews or experience with a product as on Amazon.com, direct comments on a blog or as messages on a Facebook profile page. It also gives publisher or seller an opportunity to understand the users reaction and how satisfied they are. Though its useful for most of the internet users but sometimes it can be worst for you because commenters can be stupid, stereotyped and cruel and those comments from them may hurt your feelings or bring your morale down. By using a simple comment blocker tool like Shut Up or CommentBlocker you can hide or turn off comments everywhere on the internet when you browse on your computer or iPhone. Some websites are well known for their excellent comments features like Amazon.com but others like news portal, YouTube and many more are filled with spam, trolls, hates, typos and worse. Using the comment blocker tool you can also make some website show comments while hiding it for others.
Screenshot of Comments Taken from Nicki Minaj's Anaconda Song
Screenshot of Comments Taken from Nicki Minaj's Anaconda Song- Awful but taken it just for example
Comment blockers are actually a content blocker tool which blocks a part of the content on a website and hide it. Shut Up is a majorly used comment blocker that can be used with Windows, Mac and iOS. It only works with Chrome and Safari browser. If you have Firefox and want to hide comments in Firefox you can use the addon called CommentBlocker. These tool also allow you whitelist your favorite sites.


How to hide or turn Off Comments on a per webpage basis?

  • Simply click on the link to download Shut Up for Chrome or for Safari.
  • If you are using Firefox then download CommentBlocker addon.
  • Double click on the downloaded extension file and confirm to enable it in your browser.
  • That's it. All the comments on every sites will be hidden or turned off by default.
    Hide or Turn Off Comments on a Webpage
    Hide or Turn Off Comments on a Webpage
  • Now remember after doing this you will not be able to see or do comment on any Facebook post.
    Comment hidden or turned off for facebook
    Comment hidden or turned off for facebook
  • If you want to enable or show comments for some website like Facebook or Amazon Simply click on the gray speech balloon icon in the upper right when you are visiting that site.
    Toggle the Comment on a Webpage
    Toggle the Comment on a Webpage
  • Your settings and changes are remembered for future so you do not need to enable it every time you visit those website you have enabled comments on.

How to hide comments on iOS device?

  • Download Shut Up for iOS from iTunes or the App Store
  • Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, then scroll down and Tap on Safari.
  • You should see a new option called Content Blocker after installing it.
    Enable Shut Up on iPad
    Enable Shut Up on iPad To Hide or Turn Off Comments on a per webpage basis
  • Tap Content Blocker and enable Shut Up. You are done.
  • Now all the comments on every sites will be hidden or turned off by default.
  • If you want to see comments on iPhone or iPad simply Long-press the Reload button, then tap "Reload Without Content Blockers."
    Disable Comment Blocker for one particular Site on iPad
    Disable Comment Blocker for one particular Site on iPad
CommentBlocker and Shut Up are two majorly used free tools that block comments on almost every site. There are other paid content blocker too like peace and crystal for Mac and iOS devices which provides more customization features but I would not recommend you to pay for such a small task. You can also watch this YouTube video on "How to hide or turn Off Comments on a webpage?"

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Notification Center on my Mac displays same message multiple times- [Fixed]

Friday, July 21, 2017 0
Notifications on your Mac keep you informed about the events happening around you when you are busy doing something on you Mac. It notifies you about everything from new emails to a new ‘like’ or "comment" on your latest Facebook post. It is very convenient to get notified about everything happening around you without leaving your important work and logging in to a different website. But think of a situation where you receive more than 100 notification of 1 single Facebook comment, how frustrating and annoying it could be. You won't believe that I also got caught up in such a situation where I was getting 80 repeated gmail notification of just one single email from my friend. These repeated or duplicate notifications may be associated with any website, service or app. I tried a lot of troubleshooting steps for fixing this issue myself and finally found a fix which I will explain to you in this post. So if the notification center on your Mac displays same message multiple times then just follow the steps mentioned in later part of this post to fix it.
Notification Center on my Mac displays same message multiple times
Notification Center on my Mac displays same message multiple times
Some users have reported that this problem started after upgrading to macOS Sierra but let me tell you that, this issue has been around for more that 4 years now and occurs on every Mac OS X version. You may get multiple duplicate notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Calendar appointments. This exact same problem also occurred with Gmail app for iOS way back in 2012 which Google fixed by updating the Gmail app for iOS. Google had identified this as a bug with the Gmail app that if you read a message in webmail on your Mac that message is still tagged as unread on iOS app and the notification is not cleared from iOS resulting in generation of multiple copy of the same notification. What I believe is that, it is not an issue with the app anymore but an error connecting with the server which causes those duplicate notifications.

Symptoms: 

  • You receive multiple copy of same notification as a banner along the right edge of your Mac.
  • You get multiple notification for every 1 single Facebook "like" or "comment".
  • You see more than 10 notification for every single new email. 
  • You can not dismiss or clear the notification as it comes back again.


What to do if Notification Center on my Mac displays same message multiple times:

In order to fix this multiple duplicate notification issue you need to follow all the step mentioned below in the order they are written.

#1. Disable notifications for problematic App, Service or Website

  • Click on the Apple logo at the top left corner and select System Preferences.
  • Choose Notification and Select the problematic account like Facebook, Gmail or Twitter on the left.
    Notification Preferences
    Notification Preferences
  • Uncheck the boxes for "Show notification on lock screen" and "Show in notification Center" on the right.
    Disable Facebook Notification in notification center of Mac
    Disable Facebook Notification in notification center of Mac
  • Select the Alert Style to None.
  • Close the System Preferences window and jump to Step 2.

#2. Remove the Problematic App, Service or Website

  • Go to System preferences > Internet Accounts.
  • Select the service like Facebook or Twitter on the left.
    Remove Facebook from internet Accounts
    Remove Facebook from internet Accounts
  • Uncheck the box for Notifications on the right and click the "-" button at the bottom left side to remove the service.
  • If you have any App installed for these accounts then go to /Application/ Folder in Finder and move the App to Trash as well.

#3. Remove the entry from Keychain

  • Go to /Application/Utility/ Folder in Finder
  • Open Keychain Utility and look for any entry named Facebook or Prefixed with Facebook or Twitter in case of receiving multiple notification from Twitter.
  • Delete the associated entry and close the Keychain utility.

#4. Delete the following .plist files

Click on the "Go" menu in Finder and Select "Go To Folder..." and type ~/Library and select Go.
Open Preferences folder and delete the following files.
com.apple.preference.notification
com.apple.preference.notifications.remoteservice
com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist
com.apple.notificationcenterui.XXXXXXXXXX.plist

#5. Restart your Mac and Reset SMC

Resetting SMC is a simple task of holding CTRL+Shift+Option key together during start up but iMac and MacBook with removable battery has a different way to reset SMC. Read the post on How to Reset SMC for details.

#6. Sign out of all active Session

In case of receiving multiple duplicate notifications from Facebook
  • Log on to Facebook in Safari, and do not enable Apple OS integration when asked.
  • Go to Settings from top right drop down arrow sign.
  • Select Security and go to the option called "where you're logged in" and open "Apple OS Integration" 
    Sign out of Active session to stop receiving multiple notification of same message
    Sign out of Active session to stop receiving multiple notification of same message
  • Click end activity for all active sessions here.
  • Clear History from Safari and restart your Mac.
In case of getting multiple repeated notifications from Gmail
  • Log on to Gmail in Safari and do not enable Account integration with macOS when asked.
  • In the bottom right, click Details and a new pop up window will appear.
Sign out of All active session on Gmail
Sign out of All active session on Gmail
  • Click Sign out all other web sessions.
  • Clear History from Safari and restart your Mac.

#7. Sign in to the services as a fresh to get notifications

Log on to Gmail or Facebook in Safari and Enable account integration with macOS when asked.
You'r now ready to receive notification and the multiple duplicate notifications issue will be fixed.

That was all about the troubleshooting steps to fix repeated notification of same message in notification center on your Mac. If you are also facing this problem let us know if the above steps helped you fixing it.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

How to turn off Cross-Site Tracking in Safari for macOS High Sierra?

Thursday, July 20, 2017 0
New Safari version 11 coming with macOS High Sierra is going to be more secure than ever before. In the previous post I have discussed 6 big improvements in Safari browser on macOS High Sierra. Here I will be explaining to you in details the new cross-site tracking prevention mechanism that is going to make your browsing activity more private by keeping it only between you and your internet service provider. I will also explain to you what the cross-site tracking is and how to turn it off.

What is cross-site tracking in browser?

Have you ever noticed that the stuff you shopped for or looked for something that you might want to buy last Friday or few days ago has been following you to every website you visit. For example, I was looking for a T-Shirt on Amazon last Friday and ever since then whenever I visit any website I keep seeing the ads of the exact same T-Shirt from Amazon all over the internet. Sometime even with an attractive offer saying 20% drop in price. All of these become possible by a file called cookie that Amazon and such other websites leave on your computer and when you visit a third party website like Yahoo, Gmail or YouTube they read those cookie to know your interest and serve you the ads of the same or similar product you were looking at Amazon. This is what called cross-site tracking. It sometimes becomes annoying to see the same ads everywhere you go. So Apple has introduced this Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) mechanism in new Safari version 11 with macOS High Sierra which will identify such advertisers or trackers and removes the cross‑site tracking data they leave behind. So your browsing history remains between you and your internet service provider. Not only your shopping behaviors can be tracked but other information such as which website you visit more frequently, where do you spend much of your time over the internet, your age group and gender can also be tracked so turning the cross site tracking off will keep your data from a third party website which means the information that you provided to Amazon, or stuff that you shopped at Walmart online is not going to travel to other website like Yahoo, Facebook or YouTube.

Note: Turning the Cross-Site Tracking off in Safari is not going to block ads that you see on a webpage, but rather prevent a third party marketing company from reading the data about your recent interest and internet history to show the related interest based ads.

You may also like: What is Content Blocking in Browsers?- Its Pros and Cons.

How to turn off Cross-Site Tracking in Safari for macOS High Sierra?

Follow the below step to enable or disable the cross-site tracking in Safari:
  • Open Safari menu and select preferences.
    Safari Menu
    Safari Menu
  • Go to Privacy tab on the top .
    Turn off Cross-Site Tracking in Safari for macOS High Sierra
    Turn off Cross-Site Tracking in Safari for macOS High Sierra
  • Check or uncheck the box for "Prevent cross-site tracking" to turn it on or off.
  • Close the preferences and you are done.
If you look at the above image the cross-site tracking has two options: " Prevent Cross-Site tracking" and "Ask webpage not to track me". The second option saying "Ask webpage not to track me" was also available in macOS Sierra which normally requests a website not to track you what you’re doing during your visit. However, It's upto the website whether or not honor your request and most of them won’t voluntarily honor this setting. Whatever happens, happens in the background and you normally don't realize as its a conversation between your browser and the website you are visiting.

There’s also an option to Block all cookies. But turning this on will make you deal with so many issues related to logins and other website settings because most of the websites need you to allow saving cookies that keep your login session active and use certain features on the website. Allowing cookies means you are letting the first-party website that you are visiting to save cookies for its own purposes like logins, different user sessions and other settings you customize.

So that was all about the cross-site tracking and its benefit and how you can turn it off to keep your browsing data more private. However, some users don't have any objection from tracking their internet history because they want to keep seeing related ads and remain updated with any price change as sometimes ads show the price drop or other attractive offer to its potential buyers.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What is Content Blocking in Browsers?- Its Pros and Cons

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 0
Have you ever got annoyed by the ads running on YouTube videos that you need to sit through before the actual video starts. Those ads are part of the content on that YouTube webpage which can be blocked using a content blocker. That means you no longer need to wait for the ads to finish before the video starts. As in the last post we have discussed about the new features of Safari version 11 in macOS High Sierra that also briefly explains about the in-built content blocking features in Safari . Here I will explain to you in details what Content blocking actually means!, What all can be blocked on a webpage using the content blocking feature of Safari and what are the advantages and disadvantages of content blocking.

What is Content Blocking?

Before we explain to you the term "Content Blocking" you must know what the content means in context of a webpage or website. Well, Content is everything that you see or read on a webpage, it is the information that you read, tools that you use (For example: Comments, Share buttons, Small Survey link or Site Navigation), Advertisements and Images that you see, Videos that you watch, Sidebars or Menu-bar of a webpage, and much more you can think of. These all are called content of a webpage or website. Sometime you might want to block images or ads on a particular website while browsing and that can be done using the content blocking feature of the browser. So the Content blocking is a feature of  the browsers that allows you to block or hide all or some content in a webpage or site that you do not want to see, including images, ads, pop-ups, comments and plug-ins.

In most of the browsers smart pop-up blocking is turned on by default but you can do lot more by defining a file path on a server to block all content that share the same file path. In-built content blocking feature of browsers are normally limited in option but with use of a third party content blocker in the form of a browser extension you can block more stuff like comments, ads, plug-ins and pop ups. For example, Adblock Plus is one of the most famous content blocker which blocks all the ads and pop ups running on a webpage so the page is loaded faster without ads. Shut Up is another majorly used comment blocker which is available for both Chrome and Safari while CommentBlocker can be used to do the same on Firefox.
What is Content Blocking in Browsers?- Its Pros and Cons
What is Content Blocking in Browsers?- Its Pros and Cons

Advantages or Benefits of Content Blocking:

By using content blocker in a browser, You can have following benefits:
  • Browser runs faster
  • Webpages load significantly quicker
  • By not loading unwanted content you save significant amount of mobile data.
  • Some harmful pop ups and script are blocked and thus it provides little privacy and security to the website visitors.

Disadvantage or Cons of Content Blocker or Ads Blocker

While content blocking allows you to block things that you do not like but blocking ads has higher negative effect on publisher's earning. Those website that you visit over internet for free information are actually free because of the ads running on them. Those running ads compensate the publishers and allow them to afford the cost of server, domain and writers which are of course not free. By doing this you are actually availing their services for free without giving anything in return and that brings their morale down. Here are some other disadvantages of content blocker as in general:
  • You can’t allow any specific YouTube channel to show ads or comments. 
  • It disables so many other features of a website that you may not like.
  • Navigation becomes an inconvenient task in case of blocking them as in Safari reader mode.
    Safari Reader Mode with content blocked
    Safari Reader Mode with content blocked
  • By blocking ads you are not aware of market trends and changes in prices like price drop or increase.
  • Blocking images sometimes can be a bad idea as they help understanding the purpose and portrays a rough idea of what the writer is trying to explain.
  • Installing Some content blocker also poses threat to your security and Privacy, for example:, Adblock Plus can read, modify, and transmit content like password, phone numbers and credit cards from all webpages that you access.
    Adblock Plus content ads blocker
    Adblock Plus content ads blocker

How to Enable Content Blocker?

As explained earlier, Content blockers are of two type, the in-built content blockers in browsers and the external content blocker in the form of browser extension like Adblock Plus and Shut Up. In order to enable third party content blocker you just need to download them from the developers site to extension gallery or chrome store. Let first see how we can enable the in-built content blocker in browsers.
In Chrome:
To add an exception to your content settings, follow these steps:
  1. Open Chrome and click the three parallel dots at the right.
    Chrome Settings menu
    Chrome Settings menu
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Click the three parallel lines on the top left and then Click the Advanced drop down menu.
  4. Chose "Privacy and Security".
  5. Under "Privacy and security," click Content settings.
    Content Blocker settings in Chrome
    Content Blocker settings in Chrome
  6. Click the type of content that you want to block or unblock.
  7. You can choose from a variety of options like Cookies, location services, access to camera and microphone, JavaScript, Notification, Flash Content, Images, Pop Ups, Automatic Downloads, Zoom Level.
    Content Blocking Settings
    Content Blocking Settings
  8. After Selecting the type of content add a rule to block or allow that type of content from an specific website or domain or even an IP Address.
  9. To create exceptions for an entire domain, insert [*.] before the domain name.
  10. Click Add.
Watch this short YouTube video on content blocking and see how can we block Images from a website page and allow flash content on your favorite website like pogo.com.


In Opera
  • Open Opera and load any webpage that has the content you want to block.
  • Right-click on the page and select "Block content".
  • A content block toolbar will appear above the page.
  • Click on the content like images or plug-in that you want Opera to block. 
  • When you have finished selecting the contents, click the "Done" button on the toolbar.
In Firefox and Safari
Firefox and Safari does not offer much option to block content as of now. You can just block websites from showing Pop-Ups and notifications. In case you need to control more than just them like Comments, plug-ins, images and ads you need to install a third party content blocker like Adblock PlusShut Up for comment blocking and Roadblock-Content Blocker to block ads, pop-ups, tracking, social buttons and widgets, images, videos, scripts, and more in Safari. There are many content blockers available in the market that you can search in Google, in the App Store or in Chrome Web Store.

I have been using Shut Up comment blocker and its very simple and easy to use Simply install it and click its icon to switch comment view or hide comments. You can watch this YouTube video on how to hide comments on any webpage using comment blocker.

Note:- Earlier Safari wasn't able to block content like other browsers used to do and no third party content blocker was compatible either. Blocking content was only made possible with the release of El Capitan and iOS 9 for Safari on iOS in 2015 when apple introduced content blocking features in Safari at its WWDC 2015 event. This time Apple has tweaked Safari more and made few in-built content blocking features available with Safari version 11.0 in macOS High Sierra.

How to edit the settings and unblock a particular content in Chrome?

Should you find that you have mistakenly blocked something that you need not to, you can either disable the content blocker from toolbar or simply remove the rules that you created in block section of Chrome content settings in case of Chrome. In order to unblock the content in Chrome,
  • Follow the steps-1 through Step-6 mentioned above for enabling in-built content blocker in chrome.
    Unblock Content in Chrome
    Unblock Content in Chrome
  • Click on the three parallel dots next to the website you want to remove from the block list.
  • Select remove and you are done.
So that was all about the content blocking and its pros and cons. Get one of the content blockers like Shut Up or Roadblock for your browser too and let me know about your experience with Content Blocker. If you have any question feel free to ask in the comment section below.

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

New Features with Safari in macOS High Sierra

Sunday, July 16, 2017 0
As we know that Apple has introduced its new macOS at its WWDC 2017 event and its going to be called as High Sierra. As the name suggests, It's just a higher version of macOS Sierra and it won't offer too many changes, but rather enhanced, refined and tweaked version of current macOS Sierra. In my previous post I have explained some new features of macOS High Sierra which also describes about some new features being added to Safari in macOS High Sierra. In this post I will explain in details the new features with Safari in macOS High Sierra. If you are a Safari user and prefer to use it over the other browsers then it will be a great news for you.

macOS High Sierra is coming with a new Safari version 11, earlier we were using Safari Version 10.1.1 on macOS Sierra 10.12.5 but it will also be available on macOS Sierra 10.12.6 which is only available as a Public Beta software as of writing so once it is finalized you will be able to download it with new Safari Ver 11.0 from the App Store. But if you can't wait and want to see the new features of Safari before the others do then you can download and install macOS high Sierra Public Beta 2 now but I would never recommend installing Beta software on a production machine so try it on a test machine where you do not fear of losing data or alternatively, you can install macOS High Sierra Public Beta on a separate partition.

Some interesting Facts about Safari Browser

Despite being the default preinstalled browser on Mac, Safari roughly captures 50% of usage share of all the browsers on Mac and other 50% of all Mac users choose either Chrome or Firefox. As per the survey report on usage share of all the browsers by W3counter.com published in May 2017 it is found that Safari is only used by 15% of total internet users from all over the world while chrome is used by more than 58% of total internet users. I can definitely say that the Safari is going to gain its lost confidence among its user after the launch of macOS High Sierra. It has got two major changes or improvements with Safari Ver 11.0 in macOS High Sierra the first is Autoplay blocking and the second is Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) which I will be explaining in details later in this post.

New Features with Safari in macOS High Sierra

1. Video Autoplay is disabled

Have you ever got annoyed from autoplaying video on some websites as soon as you visit it. You will be happy to hear that the new Safari browser in macOS High Sierra will stop all such auto-playing video ads by default so you can browse in peace and play the video by pressing the play button when you want. This feature will allow safari to detect all such website which play video without your permission, that means you can still allow some websites to play videos automatically but this auto-play will be disabled for other website by default. You can use new per‑site settings in Safari to enable autoplay for an individual site.

To enable or Disable Media Autoplay in New Safari in macOS High Sierra:
  1. Simply open the website you want to enable or disable the media auto-play for.
  2. Click on the Safari menu at the top and select "Settings for this website".
    New Features with Safari in macOS High Sierra
    New Features with Safari in macOS High Sierra
  3. Now a small pop up window appear for custom settings for individual website.
  4. Click on the Auto-Play options and select "Allow All Auto-Play" to enable media autoplay on that individual website.
    Disable Video auto-play in with safari in macOS High Sierra
    Disable Video auto-play in with safari in macOS High Sierra
  5. You can also select "Stop media with Sound" or Never Auto-Play to disable it completely for that individual website.

2. Separate settings for individual website

New features with Safari version 11.0 in macOS High Sierra will help you customize separate settings for individual websites. You can keep different settings for each website, for example, you can set the zoom level at 125% on one site, disable notification service from one site and enable Auto-Play for another. You can personalize upto 8 different settings which are Reader View, Content Blockers, Auto-Play, Page Zoom, Camera, Microphone, Location Services and Notification. As per Apple, with new settings your favourite websites will be tailored to you by yourself. These feature may sound new to you but let me tell you that Google Chrome has already been offering these features for long time.

To enable separate settings for individual website:
  1. Click on Safari menu at the top.
  2. Select preferences and go to Websites tab.
  3. Here you can customize the settings for all the website you are currently browsing.
    Per Website settings with new Safari in macOS High Sierra
    Per Website settings with new Safari in macOS High Sierra
  4. You can do the same from the "Settings for this Website" option under Safari menu as mentioned above in the steps for disabling Auto-Play video.

3. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP)

Well, ITP is not a rocket science. Everyone of us has been noticing the intelligent tracking by some website. Have you ever noticed that the stuff you shopped for last Friday or few days ago has been following you to every website you visit. For example, I was looking for a pair of shoes on Amazon last Friday and ever since then whenever I visit any website I keep seeing the ads of same or similar shoes from Amazon sometime even with an attractive offer saying 20% drop in price. All this become possible by a file called cookie that Amazon and such other websites leave on your computer when you visit them and third party websites like YouTube and Yahoo read those information to serve you the ads of the same or similar product you were looking at Amazon. New Safari with macOS High Sierra will identify such advertisers or trackers and removes the cross‑site tracking data they leave behind. So your browsing history remains between you and your internet service provider.

Some users don't have any objection from tracking their internet history as they want to see related ads or offer to check whether any drop in price has occurred. If you want to enable intelligent tracking:
  • Open Safari menu and select preferences.
  • Go to Privacy tab on the top .
    Prevent Site Tracking in Safari on macOS High Sierra
    Prevent Site Tracking in Safari on macOS High Sierra
  • Uncheck the option "Prevent cross-site tracking".
  • Close the preferences and you are done.
Note: Intelligent Tracking Prevention is not going to block ads that you see on a webpage, but rather prevent a third party marketing company from reading the data about your recent interest and internet history to show the related interest based ads.

4. Reader View is always on by default

This is another new feature of Safari in macOS High Sierra that automatically use Safari Reader for every web page that supports it so you do not need to click on any button to enable it. It also shows a button in address bar to switch away from reader view.  Reader view is a browsing mode in which a webpage is loaded with its stripped down version without ads, site navigation and sidebars. It is normally ideal for a long reading article or online novel reading.
An Example of reader view in Safari
An Example of reader view in Safari
If you want to disable reader mode for your favourite website:
  • Simple Click on the black reader view button in the address bar to hide it.
    Close or Hide Reader view in new Safari on macOS High Sierra
    Close or Hide Reader view in new Safari on macOS High Sierra
  • Or you can go to "Settings for this Website" option from Safari menu.
    Close or Hide Reader view in new Safari on macOS High Sierra
    Close or Hide Reader view in new Safari on macOS High Sierra
  • Uncheck the box for " Use reader when available".

5. Safari will be the fastest browser on Mac

According to Apple, new Safari is going to be the world's fastest browser in macOS High Sierra. As per the Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi "new Safari features 80 percent faster JavaScript performance when compared to Chrome" that will definitely decrease the webpage loading time and together with Auto-Play disabled and always on reader features Safari is going to be the fastest browser on Mac.

6. Support for real-time communication using WebRTC.

This might sound like a jargon as this is something more understandable to a programmer or web developer. New Safari in macOS High Sierra is going to support real time communication using WebRTC ( Web Real Time Communication). WebRTC is a set of protocol (rules) which enable you to communicate with another person (i.e., peer) via a web browser without the need of any external or internal plugins. This will enable web developer to build better apps and website that enable the video chat, video conferencing, Audio calls, live chat and much more right withing the Safari browser.

So that was the 6 major improvement in safari coming to macOS High Sierra. You can also take a quick look of the new features with Safari in macOS High Sierra by watching this YouTube Video.

Please note that the feature of customization like disabling pop up, camera access,Content Blockers and disabling tracking were already available in other browsers like Chrome and opera. They are also termed as content blocker which I have covered in the other post What is content blocking. These feature were already there in Chrome before but Safari will be faster now alongwith its fastest JavaScript performance. So that was all about the new features with Safari in macOS high Sierra. If you have any question about safari or macOS High Sierra, feel free to ask in the comment section below.
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds - a free iPad learning app now supports robots, drones and toys control

Friday, July 14, 2017 1

A definitive guide on Apple's Swift Playgrounds - A free iPad app that changes your kids life

Is't it impressive if your kids hover a drone 5 feet above the lawn with the help of an iPad app using his own programming code and he makes the drone roll and backflip, yaw and pitch, take off and land. This all can be done using Apple's new iPad app called "Swift Playgrounds" which helps kids learn to code through games and develop apps for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Apple Watch while having fun at the same time. Swift Playgrounds is a free learning app available only for iPads as of writing. It is based on Apple's new coding language -Swift, which was released in 2014. Swift is known for its powerful, flexible and very easy to learn interface. Over 250,000 apps in the App Store has already been written in this Swift Language. With its growing popularity and Apple's ambition to make it the next generation language, Apple introduced "Swift Playgrounds" app in 2016 and rolled out a major update to this app in June 2017 to support toys, robots, drones and musical instruments. Which means that the new Swift Playgrounds version 1.5 controls a variety of Bluetooth-enabled drones, robots, musical instruments and other hardware accessories. You can customize their behavior and ask them to do anything you want. Read this descriptive guide to know everything about Swift Playgrounds App and the robots and drones it supports.

What is Swift Language and its significance?

Swift is a robust and intuitive general-purpose programming language created by Apple for building apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch. It adopts safe programming patterns and robust features from other popular languages such as Objective C, Haskel, Ruby, Python, Rust and CLU and it adds modern features to make programming easier, more flexible, and more fun. With its open source and user friendly syntax that is a joy to use - Swift has become the easiest expressive language that anyone with an idea can create something incredible.
Learning Swift with Swift Playgrounds - a free iPad learning app
Learning Swift with Swift Playgrounds - a free iPad learning app
Swift is the future of iOS app development. With its powerful open source and a big developer community it lets everyone build amazing apps. Most importantly, Swift is designed to help developers writing and maintaining correct programs easily.  If you are already learning Objective-C then you can read this tutorial on comparison between Objective-C and Swift which will help you in transitioning. For your quick reference, I have included a few sample of basic coding below from Apple's free ebook - The Swift Programming Language(ePub) that you can download on your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Mac to learn more about this language.

Swift support almost all "Standard C" operator, here are few example:
String concatenation code:
"hello, " + "world"  // equals "hello, world"

Comparison Operators:
Equal to (a == b)
Not equal to (a != b)
Greater than (a > b)
Less than (a < b)
Greater than or equal to (a >= b)
Less than or equal to (a <= b)
Conditional statements, such as the if statement:
let name = "world"
if name == "world" {
    print("hello, world")
} else {
    print("I'm sorry \(name), but I don't recognize you")
}
// Prints "hello, world", because name is indeed equal to "world".

After looking at its growing popularity and robust features following popular universities are incorporating Swift into their courses:
  • Aberystwyth University
  • California Polytechnic State University
  • Cuesta College
  • Drexel University
  • Full Sail University
  • Ingésup
  • Northwest Kansas Technical College
  • Plymouth University
  • RMIT University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Stanford University
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
Over quarter of a million apps in the App Store has been built with swift. Following are some famous app developed in Swift.
  • Lyft
  • Khan Academy
  • Clear
  • Sky Guide
  • LinkedIn
  • Airbnb
  • Eventbrite
  • Hipmunk

What is Swift Playgrounds App? Who can use it?

Swift Playgrounds is a free revolutionary app for iPad developed by Apple to help learn to code and experiment in Swift language. It has basic " Learn to Code lessons" which include interactive puzzles and exercises to master the basics of coding while additional challenges and free app templates let you create real engaging and unique apps. Beyond these tutorials, you can write programs that interact with iPad technology, such as microphone, touch display, the built-in camera, accelerometer, location services, bluetooth and much more.

The best thing about Swift Playgrounds app is "it requires no coding knowledge, so it’s perfect for beginners that it could be anyone's first programming language on Swift playgrounds. Apple's idea behind playgrounds app is to engage kids in a fun activity which also teaches them to explore key coding concepts using real code. What it means is that kids not only can tap around on a touchscreen to move virtual characters but also can write a program and use the touchscreen to control a variety of Bluetooth-enabled robots and toys right within the Swift Playgrounds app. The screen is split in two parts- left and right. You type the code on the left and see the results on the right — with just a tap.
Swift Playground App now supports Robots, Drones and Toys Control for learning
Swift Playground App now supports Robots, Drones and Toys Control for learning
Programming has never been such an easier task and Swift Playgrounds is going to change the way we learn to code, and because it uses less coding syntax and verbose than other languages and promise a smoother transition from ideas to app - it's going to be a revolutionary first-of-its-kind learning app.
It doesn't have any age requirement or suggestion for use so anyone with an iPad can use it. Kids can use it to learn basics of coding and think programmatically in an interactive environment while the advance learners like teachers, parents and other prospective coders can use Swift Playgrounds to enhance their skill using the additional challenges and templates. The app also offers suggestion and corrects you when you get something wrong so it's safe and there is no failure. I can't wait to say that this is going to be a game changer as the App being on an iPad can be used anywhere anytime, you don't need to sit in a chair or around a computer screen all day.

How can I install Swift Playgrounds on my iPad?

In order to install the Playgrounds app on your iPad you need to make sure you are running iOS version 10 and above.
  • Press the home button on your iPad and tap on Settings.
  • Tap General and select About.
  • Note the number next to version: this is the iOS version installed on your iPad.
  • You can also find the iOS version in iTunes on your computer when you connect the iPad to the computer.
Swift Playgrounds is a free standalone app that you can download from the App Store on your iPad.
  • You can open the App Store and search for it by its name or simply click the link to - download Swift Playgrounds on iPad.
  • Type your Apple ID and password and the hit install.
  • Once it's installed you can find it in home screen.

Features of Swift Playgrounds

The main reason behind its popularity is the feature that it offers. Following are some major features of this App that will make you download and try it.
  1. Built-in lessons created by Apple that guide you through the basics to advance concepts of programming.
    Learning Swift With Swift Playgrounds App
    Learning Swift With Swift Playgrounds App
  2. You can watch your code run in interactive 3D world that you can rotate with a finger and pinch to zoom.
  3. As you move further in the process of completing challenges you keep unlocking next level and new challenges keeps getting added by Apple to keep improving your coding skills.
  4. Moving any command and changing its order is simple - just tap on the command and hold it to grab and move the finger to place it at a different location.
  5. Your code can directly access iPad hardware such as speaker, microphone, camera, accelerometer, bluetooth and touch screen events.
  6. Share your work with your friends and family using Messages, Mail, AirDrop, or other Sharing options.
  7. If you find a command hard to understand, simply touch and hold it to see the option with description. 
    Coding help in Swift Playgrounds App
    Coding help in Swift Playgrounds App
  8. It's also available in Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German and Latin American Spanish.
The small programs that you create in the App is called “playgrounds". There are hundreds of sample templates and playgrounds available for different kind of task and app creation, you can easily modify and change them as per your needs. The new Swift Playgrounds version 1.5 has got some playgrounds(Small Programs) that use Bluetooth to control drones, robots, musical instruments and other hardware accessories. Such different playgrounds are available in accessories and also called accessories Playgrounds. Using these accessories playgrounds you can code to command Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots and make Sphero SPRK+ robot move around the room, take off and land a Parrot drone, or teach a Dash robot to sing and dance. Apple also demonstrated controlling some of these robot and drones using Swift Playgrounds on iPad during this WWDC 2017 event. 

How to use Swift Playgrounds: Coding to control robots and drones

In Swift Playgrounds app you can start with basic learning lessons like - Fundamentals of Swift, Beyond the Basics and Explore the universe. Then move onto puzzles and advance challenges gradually. You need to download each courses and puzzles to learn and work with them. Once the lesson or puzzle is finished downloading, tap on Open or go to My Playgrounds to locate it. Once you have finished reading and learning the lessons you can then switch to the main programming interface where left screen shows the instructions and code and right side of the screen can show the results of the code when executed.
In Swift Playgrounds, you will choose a 3D animated character called "Byte". Byte will love to move, jump and collect gems. Follow the simple steps below to open the main programming interface.
Bytes Characters in Swift Playgrounds App
Bytes Characters in Swift Playgrounds App
  • Open the Swift Playgrounds app and tap on the add + button at the top left of the screen.
  • Tap on Create Playground or choose one of the available templates.
  • Start writing Swift code on the left.
  • Once you are done, tap the Run My Code button to execute it.
  • As you continue through the challenges, the next level and coding become more complex.
In order to command and control a robot, drone or any musical instruments, you need to download its respective accessories playgrounds. Here is how you can load the accessories playgrounds of a drone or robots.
  • Open the Swift Playgrounds app and tap on the Accessories at the bottom.
  • Select the accessories playground for the hardware you want to connect and code with.
    Apple’s Swift Playgrounds - a free iPad learning app now supports robots, drones and toys control
    Apple’s Swift Playgrounds - a free iPad learning app now supports robots, drones and toys control
  • Tap on get to download the accessories you want. For example, in the picture shown above I have selected Dash robot's Accessories Playgrounds (Guided Lesson and Dash Template) to download so that I can connect my Dash robot by Wonder Workshop and code to command it.
  • Once its finished downloading select the Dash template to open and follow the simple steps to start writing code on the left.
    Controlling a Wonder Workshop's Dash robot using Swift Playgrounds
    Controlling a Wonder Workshop's Dash robot using Swift Playgrounds
  • This template will automatically detect any robots or drones in the range that it supports. 
  • When you start a function you will find a list of all the command you can use with it, along the bottom edge.
  • Now using function and command you can make the robot speak, sing, and dance.
Swift Playgrounds currently includes accessories playgrounds for almost all the robots and drones it supports. Each accessory has its guided lessons and templates- Guided lessons are to teach you some basics features, command and code for the respective accessories and the template will be used to write your own programs that control the respective device.

Some Swift Playgrounds Toys and the stunt they perform:

1. LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 :- You can create five different robots from just one set simply by applying certain code to specific motors and sensors. It can become a tracker, Gripper, Reptar (Strikes at incredible, cobra-like speed with its fearsome fangs) and Spiker (a Six-legged creature with a lightning tail).
LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3
LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3
You can click on the image to buy it from Amazon which will cost you around 349.95 USD.

2. Sphero SPRK+ :-  It costs 130 USD from Apple and will cost 120 USD from Amazon. It's an App controlled robotic ball with a waterproof and scratch resistant polycarbonate shell. It can light up change color, accelerates, and rolls around on command. With Playgrounds, you can make it dance, change color or Swim across the water with your coding.
Sphero SPRK+ now gets controlled in Swift Playgrounds
Sphero SPRK+ now gets controlled in Swift Playgrounds
3. Parrot Minidrone Mambo:- Parrot's Minidrone Mambo can fire miniature balls at moving objects and you can acrobatic tricks such as flips and barrel rolls. Using the Swift code on your Playgrounds you can make it take off and land. It also sense the motion of iPad like tilting the iPad will prompt the drone to go up. It costs $110 from Apple but Amazon is offering it for $96.89 as of writing.
Control Parrot's Minidrone Mambo using your iPad
Control Parrot's Minidrone Mambo using your iPad
4. Dash by Wonder Workshop:- Unlike other robotics products it doesn't need hours of assembly, it comes pre-assembled and ready to play. It can be used with Wonder App on iOS and Android both. It offers your child more than 600 built-in activities, and challenge tutorials which will teach them how to make this robot speak, sing and run into something in front or in back of it. Apple is selling it for $149.95 while Amazon charges you only $132.
Make the Dash robot dance using iPad app Swift Playgrounds
Make the Dash robot dance using iPad app Swift Playgrounds
You can also visit Apple's accessories shoopping cart to check out these robots and drones.

Some free resources to learn and excel in Swift Programming

Almost every compatible drones and robots comes with their learning resources like lessons and challenge activities that can be downloaded right from the Swift Playgrounds app. For more information and learning new tips and tricks on Sphero Robot, you can also download their educational app at https://edu.sphero.com/ and a similar education app from Wonder Workshop at https://education.makewonder.com/.
To start with Swift Playgrounds, Apple has also created a free guide called Swift Playgrounds downloadable from iTunes and iBooks Store. It's designed for teachers to use in middle school and above. Each chapter comes with an activity to practice with children in the classroom.
Some other free online resources to learn Swift programming are following:
https://www.tutorialspoint.com/swift/
https://www.codeschool.com/courses/app-evolution-with-swift
http://www.learnswift.tips/
As we already know that more than quarter a billion apps including some of the most popular in the App Store, use Swift. With a significant number of Playgrounds users and support to robots, drones and toys, Swift is becoming popular. Getting an iPad to teach your kids Swift language with fun using robots and drone is no doubt little expensive but its also the best way to learn Swift Programming language. Since the launch of Playgrounds app, Apple has partnered with hundreds of educational institutions around the country to get Swift included into their main course curriculums. Apple is partnering with more toys and robotics companies to expand its user base.And with that I can definetely say that Swift Program and Playgrounds App is a part of Apple's $200 bn dream. If you are already using Swift Playgrounds on your iPad, do let me know about your experiences and challenges in the comment section below.

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