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Welcome to the Pittsburgh Tech Guy!  Your local source for good, dependable technical support and information!  Keep up with the latest Tech news here!

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Friday
Jul132018

How To Increase Or Decrease Desktop Icon Spacing On Windows 10

Desktop icons on Windows 10 can be resized. You can make them smaller, or bigger. You can also align them properly in a grid layout. If you don’t like the grid, you can move them anywhere you like by disabling snap to grid. This is all great but when you resize desktop icons, the grid doesn’t change. If your icons are too big, there will be very little space between them. If your icons are really small, they’re will be enough space between them to add another entire row of icons. The grid doesn’t change much with the icon size, you can increase or decrease desktop icon spacing to make it more suitable for the icons.

To change desktop icon spacing, you need to edit the Windows registry. This is my desktop with fairly large icons. You can see there’s very little space between the individual icons.

Desktop Icon Spacing

Open the run box with the Win + R keyboard shortcut. In the run box, type regedit to open the Windows Registry.

Go to the following location in the Windows Registry.

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

With the grid, you need to change the difference between the rows of the grid, and the columns. That means there are two values you have to edit. Each value manages a different aspect of the grid. The IconSpacing value will change spacing between columns, and IconVerticalSpacing will change spaces between rows.

By default, the value for both is set to -1128 but it may be different depending on your screen’s resolution.

You can change it to anything between -480 and -2780. -480 is the least amount of space you can have between icon rows and columns, and -2780 is the maximum amount of space you can have between them. You will have to experiment with the numbers to see which looks best. After each change you have to restart your system for the new value to be applied.

The following is what you get when you have large desktop icons, and spacing set to -1500.

You don’t have to set the same value for both registry values. You might want more space between rows than you want between columns so it’s fine if the values don’t match each other. You will need to remember, or write down, the default value of both registry values if you ever want to reset the grid to its default size.

Changing these values will not break anything; you can still align icons to the grid though it’s worth mentioning that with more space between the grid lines, you might end up with more space between the Taskbar and the bottom row of icons than you’re normally used to.


Friday
Jul132018

How to Set Up Wi-Fi Calling on iOS

Need to make an important phone call in a cellular dead zone? Wi-Fi Calling helps you make or receive phone calls on your Apple devices when your phone says 'no service.'  Click here for the full PC Magazine article.

Friday
Jul132018

Microsoft: Facial-Recognition Tech Needs to Be Regulated

Microsoft is calling on the US government to regulate facial-recognition systems amid growing concerns the technology will one day be abused.

It's not every day a tech company calls for regulation, particularly Microsoft. But on Friday, company president Brad Smith said the potential dangers of facial-recognition technology are too serious for the tech industry and elected officials to ignore.

"We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial-recognition technology," he wrote in a lengthy blog post.

Last month, Microsoft itself faced criticism for purportedly supplying facial-recognition systems to US border authorities. A number of company employees protested the work, and called on Microsoft to cancel the contract. On Friday, Smith said the contract with border authorities merely pertained to supporting office software such as email, calendar and messaging. But he acknowledged the potential dark side of facial recognition technologies, especially as they become more available to governments.

"Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge," he wrote. Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech."

Microsoft Facial API

Microsoft is taking steps to police its own approach to facial-recognition systems. In the coming months, it plans on releasing a set of principles governing the technology's development. However, it simply isn't enough to hope all technology vendors do the same, Smith said.

He indicated that some buyers are intent on using facial-recognition systems for questionable purposes. Microsoft itself has turned down customer requests where it was found "human rights risks" were at stake, Smith said, without elaborating.

That's why the government needs to step up and develop a common regulatory framework, he added. "It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products," Smith wrote. However, he pointed to the auto, air safety, and pharmaceutical industries, as examples, where "thoughtful" government regulation shaped the products involved for the better.

"There will always be debates about the details, and the details matter greatly. But a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards," he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a critic of Amazon's facial-recognition systems, said it supported Microsoft's call for regulation. "Microsoft is absolutely right that face recognition use by law enforcement must be fully analyzed and debated," ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement.

"Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized," she added.

According to Microsoft's Smith, the US must decide a key question: "What role do we want this type of technology to play in everyday society." He recommends that Congress take the first step of forming a bipartisan and expert commission to investigate the technology's potential impact on society, and then suggest legislative action.

 

Friday
Jul132018

In No Rush to Upgrade Your Smartphone? You're Not Alone 

The average US smartphone upgrade cycle, as of the second half of 2017, was 32 months, up from 25 months a year prior, NPD Group says. The 5G rollout could help speed that up, though.

 

US consumers are now holding onto their smartphones for more than 2.5 years, on average, before upgrading, according to new research from The NPD Group.

The average US smartphone upgrade cycle, as of the second half of 2017, was 32 months, the market research firm wrote in its latest Mobile Connectivity report. That's up from 25 months a year prior.

It's also not uncommon these days for people to hold onto their smartphones for more than three years, the firm noted. In the second half of 2017, 22 percent of US smartphone users said they wait more than 36 months to upgrade, up from 18 percent who said the same a year earlier.

prepaid upgrades

Prepaid users are quickest to upgrade. In the latter half of last year, 21 percent of prepaid smartphone users reported upgrading their devices within a year of purchasing them. Just 10 percent of postpaid customers said the same.

"The continuous improvement of device build quality and components, coupled with higher price tags, has motivated consumers to hold on to their smartphones for longer periods than in the past," Brad Akyuz, director and industry analyst at NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement.

Carriers' stricter upgrade policies of late have also impacted the upgrade cycle. "Many carriers require that customers fully pay off their devices before trade-in, which has slowed down upgrade cycles for postpaid customers," Akyuz said.

However, the launch of 5G networks offering benefits like faster speeds and lower latency will likely spur many to upgrade quicker than they do today.

"With the debut of 5G networks in the coming years, OEMs and mobile operators will have the opportunity to educate consumers on the benefits of 5G services and convince them to upgrade to devices boasting a 5G chipset," Akyuz said. "This 4G to 5G migration will ultimately result in the acceleration of the device upgrade cycle."

Sunday
Jun032018

Microsoft is killing off Groove Music iOS and Android apps (Not that you were using it anyway...)

Microsoft retired its Groove Music streaming service last year, but promised to keep investing in the app for Windows 10 users. That investment won’t continue for iOS and Android users, though. “Tomorrow we’re notifying customers that on December 1, 2018, the Groove Music iOS and Android apps will also be retired and, effective June 1, are no longer available for download,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge.

The app removal means you’ll no longer be able to use Groove Music as a locker service to access MP3s or other audio files from Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service. However, Microsoft says music files will “continue to be available and playable on OneDrive” and other apps can access them. That’s not the same type of experience (with album art and music controls) that Groove Music users have come to expect, but Microsoft has obviously given up on offering a music app across major mobile platforms.

Sunday
Jun032018

How to use a smartphone as a mobile hotspot

Buried inside most smartphones is a capability that few people take advantage of but that I have come to rely on more and more: the ability to turn the phone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Using my phone as a hotspot (also known as Wi-Fi tethering) means that whenever I have a couple of bars of signal strength, I can get my tablet or laptop online — and share my internet connection with work colleagues. It’s my way to stay on top of work wherever I am, allowing me to read and send emails, move data back and forth with the company’s servers and even get a taste of the latest office gossip from the comfort of a full-sized device.  Click here for the Computerworld full article in detail.