Finds of the Week: Chrome Flags for Better Browsing / Great Big Story / Windows 10 with No Microsoft Account / Sync Calendar with the Solar System


Finds of the WeekFinds of the Week is a list of web sites I've come across lately that are interesting, fun, or useful (or all three). I hope you enjoy them. -Rhiannon

7 Chrome Flags You Should Enable for a Better Browsing Experience
Flags in Chrome allow you to take advantage of experimental features in Google's browser that can be surprisingly useful. While Google says these experimental features may change, break, or disappear at any time, you can use them to customize your browsing experience. Some of the flags listed here are standard features in other browsers like Firefox but some are interesting enough to use and will likely stick around a while. The are seven flags listed here with directions on how to get to them without looking at the whole list. You can view the whole list easily by typing ""chrome://flags" (minus quotation marks) in the address bar of the browser. A few of the available flags are Enable Smooth Scrolling, Automatically Discard Tabs, Mute Tabs (mutes audio by clicking on a speaker icon on the tab), Password Generation and Using Material Design in the browser.

Great Big Story
The Great Big Story site creates small documentaries and short films and other digital content. There are videos on all sorts of subjects you probably won't see anywhere else but that are still interesting. The sites has 5 categories of content or you can go with the default staff picks. The categories are Human Condition, Frontiers, Planet Earth, Flavors, and Origins. There's also a nice selection of films curated under the Playlist section. Some of the current titles cover subjects like exploring Turkey's ancient carved stone churches, art in Stockholm's subway, why the Mona Lisa is so famous, that time Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees, the man behind Comic Sans (possibly the most contentious font on the internet), the chef bringing Native American food to your table, and much more. If you like new and interesting information in bite size videos this is a great site.

Install Windows 10 without a Microsoft Account
When you install Windows 10, it pretty much insists on you having or creating an account with Microsoft. If that's something you'd rather not do, here's a very easy and fast way to bypass the need for an account. This works in Windows 8.1 too. If your computer is tied to a Microsoft account and you'd rather revert to local account (where the computer isn't tied to an online Microsoft account) you'll find directions for Windows 10 here and Windows 8 and 8.1 here (note that there are ads in the body of both articles and surrounding areas but they are fairly easily distinguished). The process is basically the same for both versions of Windows. You'll need a Microsoft account if you want to access the Windows store, but you can revert to a local account when you're done.

Sync your calendar with the solar system
If you use Google calendar or iOS calendar the New York Times has a way to add events that are occurring in the solar system to your calendar. The calendar includes events such as meteor showers, rocket launches, special events, and important dates in NASA history. To add to Google calendar, just click on "Google" and if you're logged in to your Google account, you'll be taken to Google calendar and where you'll need to grant permission for the New York Times to manage your calendar. Granting permission allows the New York Times to add the information to your Google calendar. I don't have access to an iOS device but I'm sure anyone who does can figure it out. From what I gather, adding this calendar is similar to adding an iCal calendar to your Google calendar.

You can find more Tech Treats here.


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Thanks, the Chrome Flags article was especially useful.

You're very welcome.

Re. "Install Windows 10 without a Microsoft Account"
That is easy and has been easy since the very first version of Windows 8. You just have to read; there is always - admittedly in tiny, tiny typeface - an entry to skip or similar. In the end you are just asked for a user name.
Have done that many, many times.

This is true. I've found that many people (myself included) don't always see the fine (tiny) print. I've used this method most of the time on my clean installs.

You should log in at least once with a Windows account to store your validation information on MS's servers, then switch to a local account.

If you have to - as i did - replace your motherboard, logging in to the Windows account again will simplify getting your machine validated again.

You're referring to Windows 10? Yes, Microsoft stores Windows 10 activation keys digitally and they are tied to your Microsoft account. The keys, as I understand it, are linked to whatever device it's used on. If you have multiple devices running Windows 10 the keys for each device are stored in your Microsoft account.
You can also use a third party utility such as ShowKeyPlus or Advance Tokens Manager to find a Windows 10 product key.
The last time I checked a few months ago, Windows 10 was still available as a free upgrade though there's no telling how long that will be in place. You need to use the Media Creation Tool to download and install Windows 10 to upgrade. The Medis Creation Tool downloads the most recent stable version of Windows 10.