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9 Virtual Field Trips That Make History Come Alive | MakeUseOf

Are you tired of studying facts and memorizing dates of historical events? What if you could be there, right where it happened? Whether you are a student or a history buff, you can enjoy visiting worldwide museums and historical attractions right from your living room.

So if you’ve got a thing for history, why not virtually visit one of these museums or historic sites today?

1. Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (Whistler, British Columbia, Canada)

This is a museum tour, but it’s a must-see if you’re interested in the history of Canadian Indigenous people. In this beautiful virtual tour, you can walk through the exhibits as if you are there.

Learn about the lives, history, and culture of the Squamish and Lil’wat people in western Canada. Click on points of interest to bring up video guides along the way.

On the website, you’ll also find audio tours filled with First Nations storytelling, music, and cultural information. You can even learn crafts with video demonstrations and watch interviews with community influencers.

2. The Acropolis (Athens, Greece)

The Greek word "acropolis" refers to a citadel or a complex built on a high hill. At this famous Greek landmark, you’ll find the ruins of many structures built nearly 2,400 years ago. Whether you are drawn to the Acropolis by an interest in religion, philosophy, mythology, or architecture, you’ll be captivated by this online photographic tour.

Enter through the Propylaia (entrance gate), and click through high-resolution images to explore the famous temples: Athena Nike, Erechtheion, and the Parthenon.

Stop wherever you like, turn 360 degrees, and enjoy the panoramic views of Athens from the top of the hill. The best part is you can walk through all the ancient structures without having to climb any stairs.

3. Mount Rushmore National Memorial (Keystone, South Dakota, USA)

If you’ve never been able to visit Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills National Forest, now’s the time to do it from your computer.

Mount Rushmore is a sculptor’s interpretation of the most influential people in American history. It took over 14 years to carve, and it attracts about 3 million tourists every year.

View this incredible historic site from all angles on this tour powered by Google Earth. Stroll down the Avenue of Flags, hike the Presidential Trail, and peek inside sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s studio.

Don't forget to check out the National Park Service's informative video to see how the carvings were scanned for digitization. Meanwhile, there are many other ways to learn about American history if you'd like to know more.

4. Google Anne Frank House (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

If you’re interested in World War II and Holocaust history, but can’t get to Amsterdam, you can still visit the Anne Frank house online.

Here, you can explore the secret rooms where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis for two years during the German invasion of the Netherlands.

See where Anne wrote her diary, and click on notes as you move through each room. Explore the outside of the building and the neighborhood, and find stories from Anne’s life on the Google Arts and Culture website.

5. The Great Wall of China (Northern China)

Construction of the Great Wall of China began as early as the 5th century B.C., and continued through several Chinese dynasties, possibly through the 17th century A.D. It is made primarily of earth and stone and continues for more than 13,000 miles altogether.

Take in the natural beauty surrounding the Great Wall without the crowds. Click on the arrows to move through the mountains in this beautiful 360-degree tour. Make sure to wear VR googles for the best viewing experience, but if you don’t have them, the videos still provide a stunning experience.

For a small fee, you can also book a shared or private guided virtual tour to explore the spectacular scenery, discover the 2,000 years of history, and ask questions along the way.

6. The Colosseum (Rome, Italy)

Like our modern stadiums, the Colosseum was designed to put on entertainment events for up to 50,000 spectators. In its 400 years of use, the arena hosted gladiator contests, wild animal hunts, and even mock naval battles.

On the Colosseum site, you can explore the history and architecture of several ancient and modern Roman attractions, including the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon.

Watch narrated video tours on the site, or purchase a ticket to a live guided tour. You can even sign up for a live pasta-making class to get an authentic Italian food experience.

7. The Tomb of Queen Meresankh III (Giza, Egypt)

While the tomb of Queen Meresankh III isn’t one of the more famous Egyptian pyramids, it is considered one of the most beautiful, and you can visit by way of a 3D virtual tour.

This is one of several tours presented by Harvard University’s Giza Project that allow you to experience Egyptian historical sites, almost as if you were visiting in person. Most notable is the colorful bas-relief artwork that is surprisingly well-preserved.

Since the tomb is empty now, the creators have made an accompanying video of Meresankh, guiding you through the reconstructed tomb as it might have looked 4,600 years ago.

Zoom in and out, turn to view the rooms from all directions, and click on the floor circles to move through the attraction. You can also click on the wall circles to get more information about the artifacts you are viewing. Best of all, you can see it up close and without anyone infringing on your personal space.

Related: The 7 Best Virtual Museums You Can Tour Without Leaving Home

8. The Terra Cotta Warriors (Shaanxi province, China)

At this archeological site, which was only uncovered in the 1970s, you can view the exhibit which houses nearly 8,000 statues that are more than 2,000 years old. The emperor Qin Shi Huang (also responsible for the Great Wall of China) may have employed up to 700,000 laborers for 30 to 40 years to create the terra cotta army.

On this virtual tour, you can walk amongst the soldiers, getting much closer than you would if you were visiting the archaeologic site in person. Unfortunately, the subtitles are not in English, but the warriors and the traditional military music will keep your attention.

9. Machu Picchu (Couzco Region, Peru)

Built in the 1400s, this site was probably a palace for an Incan ruler. It was abandoned in the 1500s and not discovered again until 1911.

This virtual tour features stunning 360-degree views from several lookout points at the attraction. The narration is filled with geographic information about the location, as well as historical and cultural facts about the Incan people.

Embark on a Virtual Journey

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a teacher or a student; a homebody or a world traveler, at least one of these tours will inspire you to dig deeper into history and learn about famous sites all around the world.

When you can't travel, don't worry. With these virtual tours, you can visit all the historic sites you've ever wanted to see, without worrying about the cost, the journey, or the crowds.

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How to Create Binaural Beats on MyNoise | MakeUseOf

A computer and internet access are all you need to use MyNoise. You’ll find a huge range of tunes and sound effects to produce the perfect immersive ambience, from a Japanese garden to a spaceship-inspired soundscape.

However, if you want to focus your mind and memory, a particular type of audio is of more interest: binaural beats.

We’re here with a step-by-step guide on how to create binaural beats using MyNoise. You'll learn how to navigate to MyNoise's binaural beats page, manipulate the audio sliders, and then save your settings.

What Are Binaural Beats?

First things first, let’s introduce some important facts. Binaural beats involve each ear receiving a different repetitive tone.

These sounds sync in your head and create a soothing or invigorating rhythm. The results help some people when they need to relax or focus at work, which is why such audio is often used for therapy.

When it comes to mnemonic abilities, research has shown that a beta frequency—13 to 30Hz—can boost it. For example, a study on PubMed explored the link between binaural beats and long-term memory. It found that participants on the 20Hz rhythm performed better in recognition and word recall tasks.

A word of warning, however. This audio can have surprising effects on the body. People prone to seizures and heart problems should get their doctor’s advice before using binaural beats.

It’s also best not to listen to relaxing frequencies while driving or operating machinery. Adverse cases have been rare, but it's enough to alert people of the beats’ complexities.

That aside, here's how to create your own binaural beats in MyNoise.

When you first arrive on MyNoise, you’re introduced to a selection of popular sound generators, including Gregorian Chant, RPG Dungeon, and Anamnesis. These are worthwhile stops, but for this purpose, you'll want to find the toolbar on the bottom of the screen.

On this toolbar, click on the Online Noises tab. This should take you to the website’s extensive database of available sounds, broken down into handy categories.

Now, you can either scroll down and find the Brainwaves collection or search for that specific keyword. However you choose to do it, click on Binaural Beats, which links to the appropriate generator.

2. Adjust the Binaural Beat Machine

The next page will have 10 sliders, each assigned its own frequency. Adjusting these will produce all kinds of rhythms, but let’s start simple.

If you just want a 4Hz beat, for example, all you need to use is the first Base slider and the fourth labeled Base + 4Hz. Move these two up and down to reach the audio pattern you want.

This same strategy is good for each specific frequency. But MyNoise also provides several presets and special features that you can take advantage of.

To create a nice tone to stimulate your memory, navigate to the Presets heading on the right side of your screen. Click on the 24Hz preset described as "Active," and the sliders will automatically jump to those settings.

If you want to make the audio more interesting, take a look at the buttons under the sliders. Some of these can add slider animations, and adjust the sliders' mode and speed. Others control the volume, timer, and even a meditation bell.

Considering audio therapy is common in meditation routines, the inclusion of a meditation bell is hardly surprising, as its ring enhances the binaural rhythm’s focusing effects.

Finally, among MyNoise’s premade options are mixes of multiple tones. Exploring them reveals just how versatile these tones can be, not to mention their mental and physical impact on you. Play around with the presets, sliders, and buttons until you have the perfect audio settings.

3. Save Your Sound Settings Online

There are three ways to save your slider placement, all of which are listed under the Current Settings heading on the right side of the screen.

Click Save in URL to embed the slider settings into the URL that's currently in your address bar. Simply copy the generated URL, and paste it into your browser whenever you want to revisit that specific audio pattern.

If you’re moving around MyNoise a lot, and want to be able to revert to your favorite audio, go for the Save as Cookie option. This allows you to load your previous settings at any time by hitting the Load button next to Save as Cookie.

The Clone as Minified Player is handy for layering sound generators. Basically, this function creates a minimized window containing your sound settings, which then allows you to start playing another kind of audio alongside the player.

You can combine the binaural beats with any other sound, and enjoy every moment of it.

4. Download Your Sound on MyNoise

Downloading your sound on MyNoise is a bit of a process. Since MyNoise is a mostly free resource reliant on patrons’ donations, access to downloadable audio files is for patrons only. So if you want to download your sound, you need to make a donation.

If you'd like to become a patron, click the piggybank icon on the top righthand corner of the screen. You can then make a donation of your choice, and you’ll receive lifetime privileged access to the website.

Just keep in mind that for each dollar you donate, you'll get one credit to spend on the site. These credits come into play when ordering your audio file.

Once you sign in with the email address you used to make the donation, head back to your binaural beats audio. Select Order as an Audio File under the Current Settings heading.

On the next page, you can request your custom audio file. In the dropdown menu, you can customize the length of the audio, as well as incorporate animation into your download. Selecting a longer length and adding animations will cost you more credits.

Once you're happy with your selection, press 1-Click Order.

MyNoise will then turn your settings into a downloadable file and send it to your email address. You can listen to it at your leisure on your computer or phone, but keep in mind that binaural beats are best enjoyed with a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Master Binaural Beats and Boost Productivity

MyNoise is a great resource for creating background noises and soundscapes, as it offers several presets, and gives you the ability to adjust the different sounds to your liking. With MyNoise, the perfect rhythm of binaural beats for relaxation, better memory, and overall performance is well within your reach.

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5 Sites to Learn or Practice Faster Touch Typing on Computers

If you're still looking at your keyboard when you type, you're doing it wrong. It's time to learn touch typing to increase your speed as you look at the screen to write faster.

Most jobs in the modern world will need you to type at a computer screen for hours; it's not just writers who need to know how to type fast. And you'll want to chat online at speed too. If you're already pretty quick, you can test your speed with online multiplayer typing games. And once you realize you could do better, these websites will teach you how to touch-type faster.

1. Typelit (Web): Read Classic Literature and Practice Typing Simultaneously

As you probably know, many books of classic literature are in the public domain today, and anyone can download these free books. Typelit uses these free classics to help you learn how to type at a fast speed, while also reading great books.

The library shows the chosen classics and how many pages each book is. Click the one you want to read, and type along. You need to get all the capital letters, punctuation, and spaces right. The test calculates your speed and accuracy per page, displayed after you finish a page.

Everything you type correctly gets a green cursor highlight, while everything you type wrong is marked in red. You can go back and fix all your mistakes. As a pro tip, use Ctrl + Backspace to delete a full word, which is often useful when you're dealing with a mistake in small words like typing "adn" instead of "and."

Typelit is one of the few websites that also features non-English typing tutorials. You can filter the books by other languages such as Finnish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

2. Ratatype (Web): Free Online Typing Course With Certificate

Ratatype is a free, step-by-step online typing course to improve various aspects of your typing game. At the end of it, you can also earn digital certificates from Ratatype. It's just a glorified way of showing your results, but hey, it might look good on a resume.

Even if you're a sufficiently fast typist right now, you can get better. Ratatype breaks down speed typing into mini-lessons over its long course. You'll learn to use different fingers, far-away keys, and punctuations more efficiently. For example, do you use your little fingers while typing? If not, this course will get you there with a separate lesson all about using your pinkies.

At any point, you can take one of the Ratatype typing tests, where you'll be graded with a certificate of silver (40 words per minute), gold (50 wpm), or platinum (70 wpm). Each also requires increasing accuracy levels.

3. Keybr (Web): Learn How to Touch Type

Keybr is one of the best ways to learn how to touch type, i.e. type without looking at your keyboard. It teaches you how to align your fingers, and generates lessons based on an algorithm that adjusts to your skill level.

The lessons make you type random subsets of letters, which aren't always even real words. It's more about getting your fingers accustomed to certain patterns. There's an on-screen virtual keyboard (customizable to different layouts) right under the lesson. While you can look at that, the idea is to not look at your physical keyboard at all.

As you type, Keybr will assess your learning level and give you challenges suited to your skills. It counts words-per-minute speed and errors in real time and calculates a score based on that.

In the app's settings, you can choose to stop the cursor or play a sound when you make an error, change from words per minute to characters per minute, and even provide custom text to practice. Keep going to learn touch-typing, and see if you can break into the high scores.

4. Coderacer (Web): For Faster and More Accurate Programming

There's a difference between typing the regular English language and typing when you're programming. The syntax is different, the punctuation is different, you're reaching for keys that you wouldn't normally like Tab or curly brackets. Coderacer wants to train you to be a faster and more accurate programmer.

The game is a race between you and other online players. Choose the programming language you want to practice: Python, Java, or JavaScript. On one side of the screen, you'll see the intended code, while the other side is a blank terminal window. Once the other players join and the countdown hits zero, start typing to recreate the code.

Mistakes aren't allowed in Coderacer, and that's where it can get difficult. Each space and character need to be perfect; it will highlight mistakes that you have to fix before submitting. You can share a link with friends too, challenging them to a speed-coding round. Once you submit, you'll find the time taken, characters per minute, and error count, with a comparison to others.

5. A Guide to Shortcuts (Web): How to Incorporate Shortcuts in Everyday Typing

A common piece of advice to increase one's typing speed is to use shortcuts and text expansion while writing. But what most people won't tell you is which text you should include in these expanders. Productivity enthusiast Vasili Shynkarenka has a guide as part of his write-up on how he learned to type 3x faster.

Shynkarenka breaks down how shortcuts help you think faster and type faster if you set them up correctly. His recommendation isn't to simply use the 200 most common words of the English language but to really think about your usage.

His main principles of shortcuts revolve around large words, words that require special symbols (like apostrophes), and words that aren't ergonomic. It makes sense and is well explained with examples, in an article worth reading.

How to Type Faster on Phones

The type of keyboard you use also affects speed, whether it's full-size or compact, and mechanical or scissor-switch. But generally, you get accustomed to the keyboard you use daily, and your speed increases on that. So whichever keyboard you do your most typing at, practice with these websites on that.

Of course, it's a whole different ball game when it comes to smartphones. How do you type fast on touchscreens, without a physical keyboard? According to a study, the answer is to type with two thumbs and rely on autocorrect, not on predictive text. Pausing for a word prediction and choosing it is slower than autocorrect, and two thumbs are faster than swiping or using the index finger, the study found.

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How to Clear Cookies and Cache in Chrome | MakeUseOf

Are you experiencing issues accessing websites in Chrome on your desktop or mobile? Your cookies and cache files might be the culprit. Get rid of these files, and then see if Chrome performs better.

Just keep in mind that you will be logged out of some websites when you clear your cookies. You can always log back in using your login credentials, though.

How to Clear Cookies and Cache in Chrome for Desktop

Chrome for desktop offers flexible options to clear cookies and cache files. To get started, follow the simple instructions outlined below.

Clear All Cookies in Chrome for Desktop

Chrome has an option that lets you remove all your cookies at the click of a single button. If you have a major issue with Chrome, this is what you should try.

Remember that you will be logged out of all the sites that rely on cookies to store your login sessions.

Here’s how you clear all your cookies in Chrome:

  1. Launch Chrome, click the three dots at the top-right corner, select More Tools, and choose Clear Browsing Data.
    Clear Chrome data
  2. A box will open, letting you specify how you want to delete your browser data. Choose an option from the Time range box, tick Cookies and other site data, and click Clear data at the bottom.
    Clear cookies in Chrome

Clear Specific Cookies in Chrome for Desktop

Chrome for desktop also offers the option to remove specific cookies. You can use this feature when you have trouble with just a few sites. This will delete cookies only for your chosen sites while retaining all other cookies.

Here’s how you do that:

  1. In Chrome, click the three dots at the top-right corner and select Settings.
  2. Choose Privacy and security from the left sidebar.
  3. Click Cookie and other site data on the right.
  4. Scroll down and select the See all cookies and site data option.
    See cookies in Chrome
  5. Use the search box at the top to find cookies for the problematic site. Then, click Remove all shown to remove all of the cookies that appear on your screen.
    Remove specific cookies in Chrome
  6. You can manually delete each cookie as well, if you’d like.

Clear Cache in Chrome for Desktop

Chrome has a single panel to remove most types of data from your browser. The option to delete the Chrome cache is located in the same panel that you use to delete cookies.

The following is how you clear the cache files in Chrome:

  1. Click the three dots at the top-right corner, select More Tools, and click Clear Browsing Data.
  2. Choose a time range from the box at the top, tick Cached images and files, and hit Clear data at the bottom.
    Clear cache in Chrome

How to Clear Cookies and Cache in Chrome for Mobile

Chrome for Android and iOS works pretty much the same way as the desktop version. You also have the option of deleting cookies and cache files in mobile Chrome.

Clear Cookies in Chrome for Mobile

Unlike the desktop version, Chrome for mobile doesn’t offer the option to delete specific cookies. You can either delete all of your cookies or delete nothing.

Here’s how you do the former:

  1. Open Chrome, tap the three dots at the top-right corner, and select History.
  2. Tap Clear browsing data at the top.
  3. Select a time range from the dropdown menu at the top, tick Cookies and site data, and tap Clear data at the bottom.
    Image Gallery (2 Images)

Clear Cache in Chrome for Mobile

You can clear the cache in Chrome for Android or iOS using the same cookie menu.

Related: How to Clear Cache on Android (And Why You Should)

While you’re on that menu, tick the Cached images and files box and hit Clear data. That should do the job for you.

Image Gallery (2 Images)

Giving Chrome a Fresh Start by Clearing Cookies and Cache

Too many cookies and cache files accumulated over a long period can cause many browser issues. If Chrome doesn’t behave as it should, try clearing cookies and cache to see if that fixes the issue for you.

Once you’ve cleared cookies and cache, you may want to remove your Chrome passwords as well. This ensures that your passwords aren’t the reason for any Chrome issue you might be experiencing.

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Google Shopping To Offer Price Comparison to Help You Find Deals

One of the many things completely altered by the internet is shopping. We are no longer limited to the stores in our immediate area. We can shop from retailers around the world to find the products we want.

With that, shoppers have become more and more price-savvy. Everyone wants a deal. Google has announced a new feature for Google Shopping on The Keyword that will make it much easier to find out whether a purchase is a good deal based on what others have paid.

How Google Shopping Price Insights Work

There are three core parts of the new Google Shopping features. There are price insights, comparisons, and tracking tools in place. To use them, just search for an item and then click the Shopping tab on the results page. Choose a product, and you'll be able to dig in and learn more about the price or enable tracking.

First, Google is offering insights into the price. This will break down key aspects of the item's price history, so you can easily determine if now is the right time to pick one up, or if you should wait until later. The features are similar to tools like Honey, but it's built right into Google search, which means you don't need to install an extension or visit another website.

From the same Shopping page, you can compare the price at a range of retailers, both online and local. This will include the cost of shipping, so you can get a valid picture of the total amount you'll need to spend from each retailer to acquire the item you want.

The final new feature allows you to track a price. When you're looking at a particular item on Google Shopping, you'll actually see a checkbox that you can click to track the price of an item. If there's a price drop, you'll get an alert letting you know so you can jump on it. Tracked products will appear under My Activity on your Google account, so you can easily remove things you no longer need.

New Google Shopping Feature Availability

Google announced that the new price insights, comparison, and tracking tools are slated to roll out right now, so you can actually search for a product and make sure you're getting a good deal right now.

Unfortunately, the new feature is only rolling out in the US for now. Google didn't announce plans for other regions, but if the feature ends up being successful, there's always a chance it could bring it to Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

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4 Online Resources for Budding Voiceover Artists | MakeUseOf

The voiceover industry is competitive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build a strong career out of it. Apart from effort and dedication, a key ingredient are the online resources designed to help you get started.

In this article, we list four useful online resources for voiceover artists, whether they're established or just starting out. From platforms providing the tools and techniques you'll need to online courses teaching you the basics.

Utilizing these resources should help you reach your potential as a voiceover artists, whether in movies, video games, or commercials.

Online Platforms for Voiceover Artists

These platforms provide a whole suite of tools for voiceover artists. As well as a community to support you in your efforts.

Gravy for the Brain

Learning how to become a voiceover artists can be a lot of fun, especially with the right people training you. At Gravy for the Brain you’ll find educational resources and a friendly community to keep you motivated. A membership costs $49/month, but often comes with handy discounts.

Here are some of the perks that voiceover artists enjoy when they join:

  • 16 courses tackling a wide range of skills.
  • Training for beginners, intermediate, and advanced students.
  • Mentorship from highly skilled professionals.
  • Hundreds of webinars covering all aspects of voiceover.
  • CRM tools to help manage your business.
  • Offers on software and hardware essential to a voiceover studio.

Even if you don’t want to pay that amount, the website is full of free resources. Voiceover training can come in the form of simple but detailed blog posts like Gravy for the Brain’s guide on rates and how budding professionals can tackle related problems. Explore its selection of features.

On top of that, there are free webinars to sign up for and watch online. These are no less varied or insightful than the website’s paid resources. And for extra convenience, you can download smaller tools like a short self-direction checklist to direct your steps towards voiceover mastery.

Voiceover Kickstart

Keep in mind that a successful voiceover career isn’t just a matter of training. You have to practice and exercise on you own in order to grow the strength and versatility of your vocal cords. But, once the core of your trade really is at its best, you can become a voiceover artist with just a PC and microphone.

There’s a bit more to setting up a good home studio, but that’s knowledge you can definitely get from providers like Voiceover Kickstart. It’s a cheaper option than Gravy for the Brain, as a full membership costs just over $20/month. It also offers an intensive 7-day "Recorded Voice" program to let you decide for free whether it’s the right hub for you.

What you receive for that price is more or less the same, focused on delivering a skillset that’s as insightful as possible for your career level. Employability is this platform’s biggest goal, while also supplying you with practice resources like an extensive database of free scripts to just warm up with or even record for your portfolio.

Despite limited access to free tools, Voiceover Kickstart is a worthwhile community to join. At the very least, speaking to fellow artists and industry experts, absorbing all they have to share, should be a priority in voiceover work. If you can have that and at a reasonable expense, grab the opportunity.

Online Training Courses for Voiceover Artists

These online training courses will help you turn a vague idea of becoming a voiceover artist into a reality.

Udemy: Voice Training

Budding voiceover artists need to feel confident in themselves as well as how reliable and cost-effective their trainers are. If no online school works for you, independent professionals can be just as good teachers without breaking the bank. Additionally, you’d get one-to-one lessons with someone who knows the business.

Udemy’s Voice Training lasts 30 days and aims to build the power of your vocal and professional presence. This masterclass contains videos, articles, and downloadable resources, all aimed at strengthening your voice with exercises and techniques in enunciation, projection, and so on.

$39.99 is not a bad offer for this precise, in-depth service, which aims to leave you with upgraded voiceover abilities, a boost in confidence, and a certificate of completion. Such documents may not be fully recognized in the US, but, besides the perks already mentioned, they paint a passionate picture about you. Considering Udemy’s other handy voiceover courses, your potential and employability can skyrocket.

Related: The Best Free Udemy Courses

Skillshare: Recording Vocals Like a Pro

Much like Udemy, this platform offers all kinds of voiceover training for professionals looking to develop specific skills. This course, for example, targets the industry’s growing demand for artists to be able to create their own high-quality recordings.

The pricing system is similar but cheaper to Voiceover Kickstart, starting with a free 7-day trial followed by a monthly fee of around $10. The course involves 17 videos dedicated to teaching you all about:

  • Acoustics.
  • Sound isolation.
  • Recording equipment.
  • Vocal and recording techniques.
  • Combining everything for maximum efficiency.

Recording Vocals Like a Pro is a perfect path for beginners in the voiceover scene. People who may not fully grasp the importance of a good studio setup, whether at home or in a professional space. Considering the value of audio content today for things like podcasts, vlogs, and commercials, freelancers especially shouldn’t underestimate such knowledge.

Just understanding the role microphones and shock mounts play in enhancing or even disrupting your recordings can change the game for you. What about when you spot a single fuzzy moment in an otherwise flawless track? With experience, cutting and replacing that snippet would take a matter of minutes.

While college degrees lead to intensive training and great validation, voiceover artists can clearly pick up their trade from many sources around the web. The key lies in choosing the right skills to focus on and teachers worth the investment.

Collect Voiceover Skills Worth Learning

Limits in budget or space don’t have to hold budding voiceover artists back from forging a career. It’s a valuable sector that just needs you to be smart and driven in order to join its star-studded ranks. These online platforms and courses should help you at every stage of your new career.

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Want to Add News Headlines to Your Website or App? You need Mediastack API

Whatever the focus of your website, news delivery is key to keeping your readers engaged. You could source and write the news yourself---or you could rely on mediastack API to provide news direct to your readers, on a website or app.

Offering a free tier and packed with news from prominent, premium outlets, mediastack API could revolutionize your audience engagement.

An API for News?

Different data can be incorporated into websites and apps via an API. That's an application programming interface, basically software that lets you pipe the data it supplies into your own code.

For example, weather data, flight information, and markets data are all key examples of daily-produced public domain data. Usually issued by big-name providers through your TV or mainstream news website, this is the sort of premium information that readers typically leave your site to go and check up on.

As noted, mediastack API is an API for news. It works along the same lines, providing headlines from significant outlets such as Sky News, CNN, BBC, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera.

Mediastack API Features

Access to mediastack API comes with a host of impressive features that will impress and engage any audience.

To start with, it gives access to news data feeds, trends, and headlines around the world as news breaks, 24/7. It's more than just a handful of providers too. Utilizing sources from 50 countries, over 7,500 media outlets feed data into mediastack API. Big names and small, updates can be as regular as minute-by-minute, and they're fully automated, in 13 languages.

The mediastack API utilizes a lightweight API layer, with content delivered from the cloud in easy-to-format JSON.

As noted, mediastack API also offers a free plan. This is notable for several reasons, not least the ability to develop your project with mediastack API without committing to a potentially costly subscription if you ultimately choose not to use it.

Subscribing to mediastack API

When you're ready to start, head to mediastack.com and hit the Sign Up Free button. Choose your pricing tier, click Sign Up, provide your information, and moments later you'll have access to the mediastack API.

Mediastack is available in five pricing tiers, each with different features.

First is the free option. This gives you 500 API calls a month, access to all 7,500+ news sources, and all 13 languages. News sources provide delayed headlines, however. The free option is ideal for any development and testing project. Mediastack API basically gives you enough calls to build your website or app without paying for the full service.

The Standard package is $24.99 a month or $19.99 with annual billing. This comes with 10,000 API calls a month, live news, all 13 languages and 7,500+ news sources, HTTPS encryption, historical data, commercial use, and technical support.

Stepping things up further is the Professional package, offering all the same features as the Standard package but with 50,000 news requests per month. This is $99.99 a month or $79.99 if billed yearly.

A Business package is also available for mediastack API. This delivers up to 250,000 news requests a month on top of the same features as Standard and Professional. This costs $249.99 per month, or $199.99 if billed yearly.

Finally, mediastack also offers an Enterprise option, tailored to meet your site's requirements with custom pricing.

How to Integrate mediastack API into Your Site or App

Once signed up to mediastack API, you'll gain instant access to the control panel. Here you'll find the API access key, API endpoints, and detailed documentation about how to implement mediastack API and the development languages you may use with it.

Your API Key

Delivered at the top of the mediastack API control panel is the personal API key for each user. This is a generated collection of letters and numbers, each one individual. If necessary, the API key can be trashed and a new API key generated.

All API queries rely on the base URL:

http://api.mediastack.com/v1/

The base URL, when used with the API key, generates a collection of the latest news details. Each string has a set of optional parameters available, covering everything from news sources to dates and sort order.

Note that the free tier doesn't support secure HTTPS API calls.

Endpoints

Two API endpoints are available to use on mediastack API: news data, and news sources.

News endpoints work with various parameters. News data uses:

  • sources---e.g. the BBC, CNN, etc
  • categories---news types, such as sport, business,
  • countries---standard country codes are used here, e.g. au for Australia, us for United States
  • languages---again, standard codes are required: en for English, de for German
  • keywords---use comma-separated keywords to provide specific topic focus
  • date---used primarily for historical news
  • sort---descending, ascending, and popularity order can be set
  • offset---used for displaying older news items from the same set of data
  • limit---the maximum data limit is 100, with 25 the default

Historical news data can be queried with the desired date specified. Meanwhile, news source endpoint parameters are limited to categories, countries, languages, offset, and limit. Specific parameters can be excluded using the "-" prefix. For example, exclude news from the US using

http://api.mediastack.com/v1/news?access_key=YOUR_ACCESS_KEY&sources=au,-us

Use Five Development Languages With mediastack API

If you're planning to integrate mediastack API with your website or app, you'll need to know which languages are supported. Five key development languages can be used:

  • PHP
  • Python
  • jQuery
  • Go
  • Ruby

Each of these is supported by extensive documentation, with examples provided for each. Error messages for failed APIs are also listed here.

Specific parameter codes for countries, languages, search terms, and news categories are listed here too, along with everything else you need to bring your readers the news content they're looking for.

Give Your Readers the News They Crave With Mediastack

Mediastack API has the potential to deliver a vast collection of headlines to your website or app, whatever the niche. With a free tier for development and subscriptions for every level, this a straightforward solution to suit any budget.

PHP, Python, jQuery, Go, and Ruby are all supported by mediastack API, ensuring compatibility with virtually any online project. The wealth of parameters ensures that APIs deliver exactly the type of news your audience is looking for, with robust support and documentation.

Categories
News

The 7 Best RSS Feeds for Weather Updates | MakeUseOf

RSS feeds are a fast and efficient way to receive alerts and updates about any topic, including the weather.

In general, there are two categories of RSS weather updates. One will give you weather alerts or warnings for a country or region. The other provides today's weather as well as weather forecasts for a specific area.

Let's look at some of the best weather RSS feeds you can subscribe to today.

1. Yahoo Weather

Yahoo might not be the internet giant that it was a decade ago, but its RSS feed for weather updates is still one of the most reliable around.

Before you can set up the feed, you need to make a note of your desired location's numeric code in the Yahoo database. To find the code, head to the Yahoo Weather website, search for the town or city for which you want alerts, and make a note of the code at the end of the URL in the address bar.

Next, head to your RSS reader and enter the following URL, replacing [location code] with the number you just wrote down:

  • https://weather-ydn-yql.media.yahoo.com/forecastrss?woeid=[location code]

Once you've set up the feed, it will update with your selected location's latest conditions whenever you refresh it.

2. AccuWeather

AccuWeather is a well-known website and app for accurate weather forecasts, making its RSS feed worth subscribing to.

The AccuWeather RSS feed is similar to the Yahoo Weather service. You need to grab the location ID number for the place you want to monitor, and then add it to a predefined URL.

A word of warning before you start, however. It appears that the AccuWeather RSS feed only works for US locations. During testing, we tried it on a British and a Mexican location, and both returned errors. All American cities worked seamlessly.

To find the location ID, you need to go to the AccuWeather website, search for the town in question, and make a note of the unique code in the URL (you can find it in the browser's address bar).

Then, copy and paste the following URL into your RSS reader, again replacing the [location code] with the place you want:

  • http://rss.accuweather.com/rss/liveweather_rss.asp?locCode=[location code]

The feed will include AccuWeather forecast updates and articles that are relevant to the location you selected.

3. National Weather Service

Rather than focusing on day-to-day weather forecasts, the National Weather Service provides a range of RSS feeds covering a broad number of severe weather alerts and warnings. It is highly US-centric but does provide a few non-US feeds.

Some of the RSS feeds provided on the site include:

  • Hurricane and tropical cyclone warnings for the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Eastern Pacific
  • Great Lakes Marine Weather Warnings (MWW)
  • Severe weather outlooks and watches
  • Global tsunami warnings
  • Automated Flood Warning Systems (AFWS)
  • Daily forecasts of river conditions
  • Local storm reports
  • Fire weather forecasts
  • National Data Buoy Center buoy reports
  • Surf reports

You can also subscribe to generic RSS weather news feeds; they include a mix of updates, forecasts, and related content.

To subscribe to the National Weather Service's RSS feeds, go to weather.gov/rss and click on the link you want.

4. rssWeather

The rssWeather service is not as fancy as those from some of the big-name weather companies. However, it's an excellent solution for those who want a simple weather report in their RSS inbox every day.

There is no fiddling around with URL and location codes. Just head to the rssWeather site and use the on-screen menu to navigate to the place for which you want a forecast. You can drill down to a hyper-local level, selecting specific areas within towns and cities.

Once you've clicked through to the place in question, hit the Subscribe to [location] RSS Weather Feed button in the right-hand panel. It will provide the RSS URL that you can then copy and paste into your favorite RSS reader.

Although the entire planet is supported on the site, we found locations in the US to be the most reliable. Elsewhere, the large cities mostly worked, but smaller towns did not appear to be supported.

5. BBC Weather

If you live in the UK and are looking for a weather RSS feed, BBC Weather is the first service you need to check out. It offers hyper-local forecasts for the entire British Isles. Some global forecasts are also available, but they are mostly only available for large cities.

BBC Weather's RSS feeds are available in two forms for each location—there's a three-day forecast RSS feed and a latest observations RSS feed. For a complete overview of the weather in your selected area, you will need to subscribe to both.

Once again, you will need to find the numeric ID code for the location you want to monitor. Run a search for the location on the BBC Weather site and extract the code from the URL.

For the three-day forecast, use this URL:

  • https://weather-broker-cdn.api.bbci.co.uk/en/forecast/rss/3day/[location code]

And for the latest observations, use this one:

  • https://weather-broker-cdn.api.bbci.co.uk/en/observation/rss/[location code]

In both cases, replace [location code] with the ID tag you extracted from the URL.

6. Reddit Weather

Weather updates don't necessarily mean weather forecasts. If you're an all-round weather geek who loves weather images, news, projections, analysis, and more, you'll probably love the r/weather subreddit.

Like all subreddits on the site, you can easily create your own RSS feed of the weather subreddit by adding .rss to the end of the URL. In the case of r/weather, you need to enter the following URL into your RSS reader:

  • https://www.reddit.com/r/weather/.rss

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, we also recommend subscribing to the RSS feed for r/tropicalweather.

7. Met Office UK

We end with another UK option. The Met Office (short for Meteorological Office) is the UK's national weather service.

Most of its feeds revolve around severe weather warnings for the various UK regions. There is a generic nationwide feed, then 16 regional feeds with more localized information. The Met Office also supplies a feed of its own news stories, which all weather fanatics will love.

What About Weather Underground RSS Feeds?

Sadly, Weather Underground's RSS feeds are no longer available. You used to be able to use Weather Underground to grab weather RSS feeds with images, severe weather warnings for your local area, and more. Unfortunately, all feeds went dark between 2017 and 2019.

This means that you'll have to rely on these handy RSS feeds, as well as the huge number of other weather apps and sites to get reliable forecasts.

Categories
News

10 Safari Mac Browser Tips to Boost Speed and Performance

Safari generally provides the fastest and most efficient browsing experience for Mac users. Apple puts a lot of work into optimizing the browser's performance and energy consumption specifically for Apple hardware.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always hold up over time. Safari can become slow, bloated, and unresponsive like any other browser. Let's take a look at how to speed up Safari on your Mac in case this happens to you.

1. Update and Restart Your Mac

Restarting your computer fixes many of life's problems, including a slow browser. It should always be your first troubleshooting step for such issues. Open the Apple menu and select Restart to do so.

Once your Mac boots up, it's also worth installing any outstanding app updates, which you can find by going to App Store > Updates.

2. Close Unneeded Tabs

How many tabs do you have open right now? And how many of those tabs do you really need? Safari keeps many of your tabs active in the background, even if you're not using them. One of the easiest ways to speed up Safari on your Mac is by simply closing tabs.

If you're particularly protective of your browser session, try an extension like Tab Suspender. This allows you to suspend your open tabs to save processing power.

3. Clear the Cache and Temporary Files

Like almost all browsers, Safari keeps a cache of data from all the websites you visit. This takes up disk space, which can contribute to performance problems. It's always a good idea to blow away Safari's cobwebs once in a while by emptying the cache, particularly if you need to improve the browser's performance.

To clear your Safari cache:

  1. Launch Safari and click Safari > Preferences in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, then check Show Develop menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  3. Close the Preferences window and click Develop > Empty Caches in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

4. Disable Thirsty Extensions

Safari has some excellent extensions available to install, but sometimes they do more harm than good by slowing everything down. This is particularly true for extensions that directly affect the browsing experience. A good example is TamperMonkey ($1.99), which changes how websites appear and behave with user scripts.

To isolate extension-related slowdown, try disabling all your extensions under Safari > Preferences > Extensions. To disable an extension, uncheck the box next to its name.

You can then try re-enabling extensions one by one to find the culprit.

Disabling extensions in this manner doesn't remove them. You'll need to click the Uninstall button in each entry on the Extensions tab to completely remove Safari extensions.

5. Restrict Plug-Ins and Website Access

Apple has been working to eliminate plug-ins from Safari, but they might still cause your browser to slow down on rare occasions. This is most likely if you're running an older version of Safari.

It's best to ensure plug-ins ask you before Safari starts running them. The same goes for allowing access to your Mac's camera, microphone, screen sharing, and other security settings.

Go to Safari > Preferences > Websites to see which websites have requested access to your Mac. Work through each item in the sidebar and disable access for any websites that don't need it. We particularly recommend disabling auto-play.

In older versions of Safari, you should also go to Safari > Preferences > Security > Plug-In Settings. Make sure plug-ins are set to Ask before they start running. Disable any you don't need by unchecking them. These settings aren't available in newer versions of Safari.

6. Upgrade macOS

Yearly macOS upgrades include new versions of Safari. If you don't install the latest version of macOS, you won't have the latest version of Safari. New versions of Safari mean better compatibility with the latest web technologies.

Apple's tweaking under the hood often results in faster rendering times and a speedier browser experience overall.

There's also something to be said for upgrading your operating system since many underlying issues with your Mac get patched up along the way.

To update macOS, open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences > Software Update.

7. Identify Dodgy Websites and Crashed Tabs

Safari can slow to a crawl as a result of a single problematic website. Websites can crash for all sorts of reasons, including too many scripts, auto-playing advertisements, rogue extensions, and malfunctioning embeds. Occasionally, this can bring your whole Mac to a grinding halt.

Sometimes these pages consume more than their fair share of resources; other times they crash entirely and leave you with the spinning pinwheel of death. To rectify the situation:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor under Applications > Utilities.
  2. On the CPU tab, click on the Process Name column to arrange processes by name and find Safari.
  3. Now look at the % CPU column and systematically close your Safari tabs to see which ones have the biggest impact on your CPU usage.

8. Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space

A lack of free space on your disk can have devastating consequences for your Mac's overall performance. A Mac with limited free space is more likely to freeze, stutter, and crash. This can cause your whole system to run slowly, but Safari is often one of the first apps to buckle as individual resource-intensive tabs become unresponsive.

For best results, maintain a healthy buffer of 10GB or more of free space. Follow our tips for freeing up space on your Mac if you run out of options.

9. Fix Other macOS Performance Problems

Boosting overall system performance also speeds up Safari on your Mac. This is because there are fewer resources tied up in non-critical tasks, so more of them are available for Safari.

Take a look at these common mistakes that might slow down your Mac. They include having too many apps running in the background or starting up at login, which you can change by going to System Preferences > Users > Login Items.

10. Check for Network Connection Problems

If your internet connection is slow, Safari will also feel slow. To isolate connection problems, find out how to test your internet connection speed to see if that's to blame.

You might need to change your DNS settings to fix it, which you can do by going to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS. Use Google's Namebench to find the fastest DNS settings for your network.

Keep a Backup Browser Installed Just in Case

Although you can follow all the tips above to speed up Safari on your Mac, it's also worth keeping a backup browser installed as well. These are useful to have for stubborn websites that aren't optimized for Safari or in case you need to use a browser extension that's only available on one browser.

Categories
News

10 Safari Mac Browser Tips to Boost Speed and Performance

Safari generally provides the fastest and most efficient browsing experience for Mac users. Apple puts a lot of work into optimizing the browser's performance and energy consumption specifically for Apple hardware.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always hold up over time. Safari can become slow, bloated, and unresponsive like any other browser. Let's take a look at how to speed up Safari on your Mac in case this happens to you.

1. Update and Restart Your Mac

Restarting your computer fixes many of life's problems, including a slow browser. It should always be your first troubleshooting step for such issues. Open the Apple menu and select Restart to do so.

Once your Mac boots up, it's also worth installing any outstanding app updates, which you can find by going to App Store > Updates.

2. Close Unneeded Tabs

How many tabs do you have open right now? And how many of those tabs do you really need? Safari keeps many of your tabs active in the background, even if you're not using them. One of the easiest ways to speed up Safari on your Mac is by simply closing tabs.

If you're particularly protective of your browser session, try an extension like Tab Suspender. This allows you to suspend your open tabs to save processing power.

3. Clear the Cache and Temporary Files

Like almost all browsers, Safari keeps a cache of data from all the websites you visit. This takes up disk space, which can contribute to performance problems. It's always a good idea to blow away Safari's cobwebs once in a while by emptying the cache, particularly if you need to improve the browser's performance.

To clear your Safari cache:

  1. Launch Safari and click Safari > Preferences in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab, then check Show Develop menu in menu bar at the bottom of the window.
  3. Close the Preferences window and click Develop > Empty Caches in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

4. Disable Thirsty Extensions

Safari has some excellent extensions available to install, but sometimes they do more harm than good by slowing everything down. This is particularly true for extensions that directly affect the browsing experience. A good example is TamperMonkey ($1.99), which changes how websites appear and behave with user scripts.

To isolate extension-related slowdown, try disabling all your extensions under Safari > Preferences > Extensions. To disable an extension, uncheck the box next to its name.

You can then try re-enabling extensions one by one to find the culprit.

Disabling extensions in this manner doesn't remove them. You'll need to click the Uninstall button in each entry on the Extensions tab to completely remove Safari extensions.

5. Restrict Plug-Ins and Website Access

Apple has been working to eliminate plug-ins from Safari, but they might still cause your browser to slow down on rare occasions. This is most likely if you're running an older version of Safari.

It's best to ensure plug-ins ask you before Safari starts running them. The same goes for allowing access to your Mac's camera, microphone, screen sharing, and other security settings.

Go to Safari > Preferences > Websites to see which websites have requested access to your Mac. Work through each item in the sidebar and disable access for any websites that don't need it. We particularly recommend disabling auto-play.

In older versions of Safari, you should also go to Safari > Preferences > Security > Plug-In Settings. Make sure plug-ins are set to Ask before they start running. Disable any you don't need by unchecking them. These settings aren't available in newer versions of Safari.

6. Upgrade macOS

Yearly macOS upgrades include new versions of Safari. If you don't install the latest version of macOS, you won't have the latest version of Safari. New versions of Safari mean better compatibility with the latest web technologies.

Apple's tweaking under the hood often results in faster rendering times and a speedier browser experience overall.

There's also something to be said for upgrading your operating system since many underlying issues with your Mac get patched up along the way.

To update macOS, open the Apple menu and go to System Preferences > Software Update.

7. Identify Dodgy Websites and Crashed Tabs

Safari can slow to a crawl as a result of a single problematic website. Websites can crash for all sorts of reasons, including too many scripts, auto-playing advertisements, rogue extensions, and malfunctioning embeds. Occasionally, this can bring your whole Mac to a grinding halt.

Sometimes these pages consume more than their fair share of resources; other times they crash entirely and leave you with the spinning pinwheel of death. To rectify the situation:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor under Applications > Utilities.
  2. On the CPU tab, click on the Process Name column to arrange processes by name and find Safari.
  3. Now look at the % CPU column and systematically close your Safari tabs to see which ones have the biggest impact on your CPU usage.

8. Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space

A lack of free space on your disk can have devastating consequences for your Mac's overall performance. A Mac with limited free space is more likely to freeze, stutter, and crash. This can cause your whole system to run slowly, but Safari is often one of the first apps to buckle as individual resource-intensive tabs become unresponsive.

For best results, maintain a healthy buffer of 10GB or more of free space. Follow our tips for freeing up space on your Mac if you run out of options.

9. Fix Other macOS Performance Problems

Boosting overall system performance also speeds up Safari on your Mac. This is because there are fewer resources tied up in non-critical tasks, so more of them are available for Safari.

Take a look at these common mistakes that might slow down your Mac. They include having too many apps running in the background or starting up at login, which you can change by going to System Preferences > Users > Login Items.

10. Check for Network Connection Problems

If your internet connection is slow, Safari will also feel slow. To isolate connection problems, find out how to test your internet connection speed to see if that's to blame.

You might need to change your DNS settings to fix it, which you can do by going to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS. Use Google's Namebench to find the fastest DNS settings for your network.

Keep a Backup Browser Installed Just in Case

Although you can follow all the tips above to speed up Safari on your Mac, it's also worth keeping a backup browser installed as well. These are useful to have for stubborn websites that aren't optimized for Safari or in case you need to use a browser extension that's only available on one browser.