Good to know

It’s great to find new things. Today, I’m sharing two new-to-me tips and one oldie but goodie. Make Wikipedia look good, control your trackpad, and stay safer.

Wikiwand makes Wikipedia look good

Wikipedia is a wonderful resource, with more than 35 million articles. Why does it feel so … clunky?

It’s been around for close to 15 years, and the interface looks like it. Wikipedia also looks awful on some mobile phones and tablets. But there’s good news! A browser extension and iPhone app called Wikiwand make Wikipedia more appealing and much easier to read.

You can get browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, and an app for iPhones. An Android app is in the testing phase.

To get started with Wikiwand, visit the site, click on the word Wikiwand in the top left corner, and download and install the version you need. After that, any time you click on a Wikipedia link, the content displays in the extension/app. And it looks great.

I’m using it in Firefox, and besides looking good right out of the gate, you can further customize Wikiwand’s fonts and justifications.

It’s really very nice. If any of you are using it on your iPhone, I’d love to know how you like it. I’m waiting to test it on my Android.

Windows 10 contains a built-in way to disable touchpads

When you’re typing messages or documents on a laptop, do you ever lose track of the cursor and discover it’s jumped up a line or two? Now that beautifully crafted prose is word salad.

Most of the time this behaviour is caused by accidentally touching the touchpad/trackpad on the laptop. Unless you hold your hands like a concert pianist, your wrists tap on that trackpad and the mouse cursor moves as if you clicked on a mouse button.

Well, yes. That’s what trackpads are for. But we only want that behaviour when we intentionally tap.

In Windows 7 we relied on utilities like TouchFreeze to automagically disable the touchpad while we were typing. But Windows 10 has that feature built in. We just need to enable it:

  • Open Settings (Pressing the WindowsKey and the I simultaneously is one way to do this)
  • In the Search box at the top, start typing touchpad
  • Click on Choose whether to have a touchpad delay
  • Under Touchpad sensitivity, choose your delay.

The “delay” we’re tweaking here is the time between when you tap the trackpad and the time it reacts like you’re clicking a mouse button. If you strike a key in the delay, Windows 10 knows you don’t mean a mouse click and ignores that tap on the trackpad.

If you’re a fast typist, you can get by with a short delay. If you type slowly, you’ll want to set a longer delay. If you don’t know, start with Medium, and then tweak again if you want more delay or less delay.

Check a file or a website with VirusTotal

Customers, friends, family, and readers often ask me how they can tell whether a link or a file is safe before they download it. One way is to check it with VirusTotal.

When you visit the VirusTotal website, you’ll see a very clear explanation of the site’s purpose:

"VirusTotal is a free service that analyzes suspicious files and URLs and facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware."

Not only that, it does it quickly, efficiently, and with a high degree of accuracy. VirusTotal aggregates information from 50 or so antivirus engines and checks files, URLs, and IP addresses.

When you search on any of those, VirusTotal returns a result that shows how many of the AV engines return a positive result. You can then decide if the file/site is likely to be harmful.

It’s dead easy to use, but if you need help, check the excellent documentation here.

Remember, you can also check a file you’ve already downloaded before you open or run it.

Right-click on the file and click on Scan with Windows Defender or Scan with your antivirus product. It only takes a minute (or less!) to scan a file. It’s not like running a full scan.

And it’s well worth it.

Spring is coming! Enjoy Daylight Saving Time! And please consider sponsoring my ride: https://goo.gl/WnnSd3.


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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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