Author Archives: dhand

An Introduction to Discord: the Latest and Greatest in VoIP for Gamers

PC Gaming continues to grow annually as one of the primary platforms for gamers to enjoy their favorite titles. E-Sports (think MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL-level skills, commentary and viewership, but for video games) also continue to grow, creating a generation of hyper-competitive gamers all vying to rise above the rest. Throughout of the history of PC gaming, players have used a variety of voice communication programs to allow them to communicate with their teammates. Skype, Mumble, Ventrilo, and Teamspeak are just a few of the clients that are still used today, but in late 2015, a new challenger appeared: Discord!

You heard them. It’s time to ditch Skype and Teamspeak!

Discord was created to serve as VoIP platform that can host many users at a time for voice, text, image and file sharing. It’s the perfect solution for users that were looking for a voice chat program that is easy to use, resource-light, and capable of just about anything. 

Here’s what Discord looks like once you’re logged in. In the center of the screen, users can use discord like they would any typical messenger program to send files, links, texts, images, videos, and other files. Slightly to the left, you can connect to channels to communicate with others over chat.

Traveling even further to our left is a list of discord servers you can join. These are specific groups of channels that you usually have to be invited to and are usually filled with members of various online communities. It’s a great way to chat with people who share similar interests! Many subreddits and YouTube communities have dedicated discord servers.

Discord’s popularity is exploding, with over 45 million users as of May 2017. It’s ability to provide services in an easy (and free!) to use platform that others have failed to match in the past makes it a strong contender for the best VoIP program to date. It even boasts fairly robust security features, such as having to confirm a login via email every time you try to log in to discord from a new IP address.

To get started, head on over to https://discord.gg to sign up. Discord is also available as a client application on desktop machines, as well as for mobile devices like iOS and Android.

 

Today in “Absurd Tech Stories”: Burger King vs Google

“OK, Google: What is the Whopper burger?”

The internet is all over a story today involving burger giant Burger King and tech giant Google, in which Burger King released a new ad that takes advantage of Google Home, the in home personal assistant created by Google. This device mirrors other in home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa.

Google Home.

The short commercial, titled “BURGER KING® | Connected Whopper®” (shown below), features a Burger King employee using the phrase “OK, Google” to purposefully trigger in home devices or mobile phones with Google Voice capability to conduct a Google search for the Whopper. On the surface, this comes across as a pretty clever marketing ploy by BK, taking advantage of current tech trends to make the commercial more relate-able

However, in true internet fashion, those that wanted to have a little fun caught wind of this ad pretty quickly turned this innocent commercial into something a little more ridiculous.

Asking Google Home the question “OK, Google: What is the Whopper burger?” gives the user a description based on the current Wikipedia article. This rule applies to anything that is searched for in this fashion. Users who wanted to mess around with the first line of the Wikipedia article started to edit the line, making it say things like that the Whopper’s main ingredient was cyanide, and that the Whopper was “cancer-causing”, which would then read out when someone tried to run the voice command.

Within three hours, Google had modified their voice detection to not interact at all with the Burger King commercial. Users could still normally ask the device the same phrase, but it seemed that Google didn’t take too kindly to the small disturbance that this commercial was causing and shut it down as fast as it started.

Stories of internet trolls taking advantage of AI programs are becoming more and more prevalent in recent years. In March of 2016, Twitter users were able to modify TAY.AI, Microsoft’s Twitter chatter bot, to make remarkably inflammatory and inappropriate comments.

 

The commercial can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_O54le4__I

Forget About It!: How to forget a network in Windows 10

Sometimes, it’s better to just forget!

One of the most common tropes in the tech support world is the tried and true “have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?”. Today, we’ll be examining how we can apply this thinking to helping solve common internet connectivity issues.

While it’s one of the best things to do before trying other troubleshooting steps, “forgetting” your wireless network is not a step most people think to do right away. Forgetting a network removes any configuration settings from your computer and will cause it to longer try to automatically connect to it. This is one way to try to fix configuration settings that just didn’t get it right the first time.

Today, we’ll be examining how to “forget” a network on Windows 10 in four quick, easy steps!

  1.  Navigate to the settings page and select “Network & Internet” settings
  2. Select “Wifi” from the left menu, then select “Manage known networks”.settings2
  3. Find your network, click on it, then select the “Forget” button.settings3
  4. Open up your available networks, and try to reconnect to the network you would usually connect.

settings4

And that’s it!

While this may not solve connectivity issues, it is a good place to start. May this quick tutorial help you troubleshoot wireless problems you may have. If issues persist, you should next try to examine potential service outages, your network card, or, in the case of home networks, your modem/router.

 

Good at Pictionary? Try Quick, Draw!, from Google!

It usually takes two (or more) players to play a game of Pictionary, or “guess what I drew”. Now, thanks to Google, it only takes one!

Introducing Quick, Draw!, an A.I. experiment created by Google designed to teach itself how to recognize drawings and match them to words. Today, I’ll be providing a very basic walk through on how the program works. If you saw the title and are just interested in learning about it yourself, skip to the bottom of this article for the link. MAIN SCREEN 1

Quick, Draw! is a neural network, an AI program designed to use machine learning to learn and remember the information it receives, so that it can better recognize it in the future. In Quick, Draw!’s case, it asks users to draw a picture of something to the best of their ability. Once the AI program is able to sufficiently recognize the picture, it moves on to the next one. If it cannot guess the picture within 20 seconds, it simply moves on to the next one. This is the first screen that will show up after starting:

BRIDGE

This is the screen that appears right before it asks you to draw whatever it asks for. Here, it wants us to draw a bridge. You will then be asked, to the best of your ability, to create your best interpretation of a bridge. If the computer can recognize it, you’ll automatically move to the next one!

Once you have completed (successfully or unsuccessfully) all six of your pictures, you will come to a results screen where you can analyze and see what other people drew for each picture:

results

From here, you can click on each picture to see what other people drew and what the computer recognized.

BRIDGE 2

Here we see that the AI was able to recognize the bridge, as well as showing what other words or items it may have thought you were drawing. Rainbow and fish were a couple of the other potential matches!

BRIDGE 3

Finally, if you scroll down, it will show you what other people drew that were successfully interpreted. As you draw, the Google AI uses a database of these pictures to try and help it identify what you are trying to draw. Naturally, the more pictures it has in it’s data bank, the “smarter” it will become, and the faster it will be able to detect what you are trying to draw. With some pictures, you can draw as little as two lines before it can tell what you are trying to draw!

Neural network AI is a newer technology that is just starting to get its legs. Earlier this year, Tay.AI, a Twitter neural network bot created by Microsoft, was “taught” to be incredibly rude in less than 24 hours, thanks to user input. As time goes on and the technology improves, we will begin to see a whole variety of uses for this type of technology.

It’ll only be a matter of time before the “Skynet” becomes a very real possibility.

To get started with Quick, Draw!, head over to https://quickdraw.withgoogle.com/ to give it a try.

So You Want To Learn HTML? (Part 1: What IS HTML?)

Hi there! If you’ve clicked on this article, there is a non zero chance you want to learn HTML.

Today, I will be going over some of the basics of HTML. But first we must answer the question:

What IS HTML?

HTML Stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it provides the backbone for the code that makes up most web pages you visit on a daily basis. HTML code is usually written and modified using a variety of tags, styles and scripts.

  • Tags are the backbone of HTML, providing a basic structure for web pages.
  • Styles allow a web developer to modify the layout of a webpage but modifying attributes like the positioning, color, or size of elements on the webpage.
  • Scripts allow a web developer to create ways for users to interact with webpages in a variety of ways.

Today, we will be creating a basic HTML document. To begin, open up A simple text editor. The most common/easy to use for this exercise are Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac).

notepad-blank.bb647ae001a4fc7d168c240e01088787[1]

This is where we’ll begin. As previously stated, tags are the backbone of an HTML document, and are what we’ll be using to create a very basic text page. Every tag has an opening tag and closing tag. Text is then placed in between these tags.

Let’s run through a quick example: To create a full header tag, one would simply type the opening tag for a header: <h1>, followed by some text, and finally, the closing header tag: </h1>. Altogether, it would look something like this:

<h1> This is what a header looks like! </h1>?

Got that? To break it down one last time:

<h1> is our opening tag. It tells the document, “hey, I’m about to start a header tag. The stuff to follow is going to make a header for my page!”

</h1> tells the document, “I’m done writing the header now. Close it up!”

On a very basic level, this is all it takes to write a line of HTML code. Now, let’s dive into a few of the basic tag types.

Tag Types

Today we will be going over two very basic HTML tags to help give you a taste of writing HTML code.

Header

The header tag is a very important one, usually used to format the title of a webpage. We worked with it a bit up above, but there’s an extra part about headers that is important to know, for formatting purposes. The number that comes after the “h” in the header tag ranges from 1-6. These numbers rank the “importance” of each header in a given HTML document. Each rank, from <h1> all the way to <h6>, produce a progressively smaller header.

Consider the following block of code:

<h1> This is what an h1 header looks like! </h1>
<h2> This is what an h2 header looks like! </h2>
<h3> This is what an h3 header looks like! </h3>
<h4> This is what an h4 header looks like! </h4>
<h5> This is what an h5 header looks like! </h5>
<h6> This is what an h6 header looks like! </h6>

This code, when saved and viewed as an HTML document, looks like this:

headers

As we can see, each successive “rank” in our headers produces a smaller and smaller line, with the last couple of lines ending up quite small. This allows you to create “sub headers” to rank and organize items on your page by importance.

Paragraph

The paragraph tag is a simple and elegant way of “wrapping” text in your document, so that it doesn’t all stay together on one, long line. To represent a paragraph, use the following structure:

<p> This is my paragraph! By using this tag, it will wrap all of the text that I’m typing inside of it to make it much nicer to look at and read in my HTML document. Thanks <p> tag! </p>

Now that we’ve learned a couple of HTML tags, let’s use them to whip up your own HTML document!

  1. Open up Notepad, TextEdit, or similar text program.
  2. Type the following on the first line: <h1> This is my first HTML Document!</h1>
  3. On the next line, copy and paste the following: <p> The paragraph tag allows me to input text into my document, and format it to make it readable!</p>
  4. Finally type an <h2> header, with your name, and the date. Don’t forget to close the tag!
  5. Save the file as an HTML document. To do this, when naming the file, type ‘.html’ after the file name (for example: MyFirstHTML.html). Save it somewhere on your computer that is easily accessible.

Your final code should look something like this:

<h1> This is my first HTML Document!</h1>
<p> The paragraph tag allows me to input text into my document,  and format it to make it readable!</p>
<h2> First Name Last Name, October 4, 2016 </h2>

When you try to open up the HTML document, it should look like this:

headers

Congratulations! This article provides a very basic overview of HTML, and teaches you the basics of creating your first HTML document. Next time, we will discuss some more basic structural tags, as well as begin discussing styles, which will allow us to further modify the layout and color, as well as other features of our web page.