Category: Arts & Entertainment (Page 1 of 2)

The NewProfilePic App

There are always new mobile apps for you to discover, and it looks like NewProfilePic is this month’s all-star. This freebie, available through the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, will transform a selfie photo into something stylized and eye-catching.

All you have to do is upload any photo file[1]of a single, close-up of a human face. Sorry, no pets! you have access to from your mobile device, and dodge a few pop-up ads along the way. The app does the rest, giving you a few different photo filters to try out. And they claim you can check back each week for new filters and tweaks.

As this app took off in popularity, some websites started sounding an alarm about its safety. Claims of data-sharing with Russia are being passed around, but I don’t see any truth to that. It looks to me like these rumors are not based on hard facts, and only being reported on clickbait and junk news sites (nothing mainstream).

In other words, whatever info-collection this app is doing, it’s certainly less invasive than, say, Facebook or Google. If you want to try out this app, feel free and have fun!

References

References
1 of a single, close-up of a human face. Sorry, no pets!

JustWatch – The Streaming Guide

If you use various streaming services, JustWatch is a useful tool to consider. Search for any movie or show, and JustWatch will tell you where you might stream it. You can see all of your Rent and Buy options, as well as prices, and click through to any provider you want to patronize.

If you create a free account, then you may also create watchlists and receive recommendations, but I think it’s useful for streamers even without signing up.

VLC Media Player

If you’re looking to play a DVD movie on your Windows computer, chances are it won’t work. When you insert the DVD, your machine will spin and hum and eventually tell you, “Couldn’t open file” or some other frustratingly vague error. In any case, Windows 10 and 11 no longer have the necessary files (codecs) to make a commercial DVD run properly.

What you need for this situation is VLC Media Player. Download it for free, install it and then you’ll be able to play virtually any movie DVD, audio CD and other multimedia file that you’re having a challenge with.

You may find other DVD-viewing suggestions in the Microsoft Store, but they will either cost you money or turn out to be advertising lures. I can vouch for VLC Media Player being both free and legitimate. Oh, and it’s also available for Windows, MacOS and Linux!

National Day Calendar

Did you know today (December 17) is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day? It’s also National Maple Syrup Day and National Underdog Day.

With only 366 days in the year, every day is a recognized day to celebrate or remember something serious or silly. Or many things, depending on the day. Check out the National Day Calendar website to see what’s special about today!

Experiments with Google

You should check out the Experiments by Google website! Programmers and coders everywhere have been submitting their projects to Google, and many of them are shared here, free for all to use.

But if you go to the main Experiments page I linked above, it may seem like too much to browse through. There’s over 1600 “experiments” out there! So the Collections menu or page may help you narrow it down to more relevant and interesting items.

Personally, I’m finding the most enjoyable offerings under Play with Arts & Culture, Experiments for Learning, Creatability, Arts & Culture Experiments, and Chrome Experiments. You’ll encounter information tools suitable for homeschooling, fun games & puzzles that you can share over the internet, and so much more.

I’ll specifically call out:

3D Periodic Table

Puzzle Party

Autodraw

Song Maker

Art Coloring Book

Typing Trainer (Learn Morse Code)

Bookmark anything you love, to avoid the challenge of finding it again later!

Windows 10 Gaming Performance Fix

Since March 2021, some gamers have had some real problems on their Windows 10 computers. The problem was not with your casual games, like Solitaire and Mahjongg, but with more demanding games, like CS: GO and GTAV. Many players could not resolve issues with stuttering and low frame rates, and it all traced back to Microsoft as the culprit.

Microsoft has finally developed a fix. And while the fix is included in a larger update next month, Microsoft has gone the extra mile and released the gaming fix now, as an optional update. If you’ve been suffering under this problem, go get the download now:

Click Start, go to Settings, then Update & Security. You should see the update in question (KB5004296 ), under the heading “Optional quality update available”:

Click “Download and install”, wait out the update process, and reboot when it appears finished. I hope this improves your future games!

Permanently Delete a Game from Steam

If you play Steam video games, you should know that you *can* delete a game from your library. This is more than simply uninstalling the game. Deleting it from your Steam Library means you’ll never again see it in your list of available games, or be able to reinstall it.

It’s not obvious how to remove a Steam game in this manner, so here are the steps:

  • In the Steam program, click Help and then click Steam Support.
  • Click “Games, Software, Etc.” and then click on the game you wish to remove. If you don’t see it, use the Search field to find and select it.
  • Click “I want to permanently remove this game from my account.”
  • Click “OK, remove the listed game(s) from my account permanently.”

Please know that this is irreversible and does not get you any kind of refund. Why would you irrevocably delete a game from Steam?

  • You know you’ll never play it again.
  • You’re embarrassed to have it in your library.
  • You’re a parent taking action to remove something inappropriate from your child’s Steam collection.

Freebies at Epic Games

Epic Games has given away free games for quite some time now, announcing a new freebie every week. The games vary in quality — some are niche, others are amazing, but they are all truly free. You just have to visit the site, make an account, and click the Claim button on any free game you want. No fees, no catches!

But for the 2020 Holiday season, Epic is going all out! They are giving away a different game each day, until 2021. Each game is only available for 24 hours, but if you claim it, you get to keep it and play it forever, for free. So gamers, everywhere: Check the Epic Games site each day for the rest of the year!

IrfanView Graphic Viewer

IrfanView has been around for over 20 years. If you use it, you’ll notice its menus and overall look still have that Windows 98 look! IrfanView is a small program that will help you view and edit your image files.

But why would you use it (over more modern apps)? This program does exceedingly well at opening old, archaic file types. If you have found some old pictures that you can’t open, IrfanView can probably help. Some examples:

If you find an old digital camera in your junk drawer, and it’s full of photos in the FlashPix format, IrfanView can open those files.

If your designer gave you some archival files in the Photoshop format, IrfanView can handle them.

And once you open such files in IrfanView, you’ll also be able to use the Save As… function to convert your your files to JPG or other modern formats.

IrfanView is free to download for personal, educational and charitable use. If you want to use it in a professional setting, they ask $12 per license.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Dolly Parton has contributed to many charitable causes in her lifetime, but she may be the most proudest of her Imagination Library. She started this program to get books to children for free. It started in Tennessee but is now available in many parts of the USA and other countries.

If you can sign up for this program, your child will receive a book, absolutely free, through the mail each month. You can start as soon as your child is born, and the books will continue to arrive until they are of school age. You just have to check the availability, based on your address, at their site.

If the IL Program is not available where you live, think outside the box. Can you sign your child up for free books, using a grandparents’ address? Availability is based on the zip code and county, and you can check as many addresses as you want. Also, if you want info on how to bring this program to your region, check out the bottom of their USA page for the 3 Steps to make it happen.

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