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Free app lets you cut Zoom meetings like a film director

by JOY SCHWABACH | December 5, 2020 at 1:51 a.m.

I've often wished I could capture the highlights of a Zoom meeting in a short video clip. Now, with a free app from Grain.co, I can.

I started with a two-hour meeting recorded six months ago, which appeared in the Grain app automatically. Then, by scrolling through the transcript underneath the video, I quickly got to the part where my nephew says "Happy birthday" to my sister. When I highlighted the text and clicked the "share" button, Grain created a 17-second video clip, complete with transcript, ready to share in an email, on Facebook or wherever.

On Thanksgiving, I had a Zoom meeting with my brother, nephews and niece-in-law. I figured they wouldn't want me recording the whole thing, so I didn't hit "record" until we said "Happy Thanksgiving" in unison. Unfortunately, I was in speaker mode in Zoom. I should have clicked "gallery" in the upper-right corner of my computer screen. Speaker mode shows only whoever's talking at the time; gallery mode shows you the whole group.

You have to be the host of a Zoom meeting to record it, but the host can make you a co-host by changing a setting in their Zoom account. Alternatively, they can turn the host role over to you during the meeting. When they do that, the record button will pop into view.

With the free version of Grain.co, you get 100 stored recordings, but only 15 of them include transcripts. The unlimited version is $36 a month, but you get a free three-month trial of that when you sign up. There's also a $12-a-month plan.

TOO MANY DINGS

I turned off notifications for most of my smartphone apps, or I'd get dinged all day. But I still hear a toot when messages come in from Facebook Messenger or my text messaging app. Sometimes, even these are too much. Two of my acquaintances send uninteresting videos every day. So I turned off notifications for those people.

Here's how to do it. Open a conversation in Facebook Messenger. Then click in the top right and choose "mute notifications." In my Android Messages app, I tapped a conversation, then tapped the three vertical dots. After choosing "details," I toggled notifications off.

LIFESAVING APP

OrganFlights.com offers an app that helps ensure organ transplants go smoothly. It might be something to mention to your doctor, if you or a loved one is in need of a transplant.

The OrganFlights app coordinates everything that takes place between a hospital and a medical flight. The hospital or transplant center worker taps the app and enters the information. Everything else is handled by OrganFlights. It finds the aircraft, arranges for ground transport when the flight arrives and takes care of the details. The company's chief executive officer has been in the business of getting organs to hospitals for 27 years.

GOOGLE NEWS

Google Chrome is now faster. That's because it keeps your current tab prioritized over the others you have open, reducing the usage of your computer's central processing unit five times.

Google Maps now shows you how crowded your bus or train will be. To see that, tap the bus symbol after typing in a location and choosing "get directions." It will vary from "not crowded" to "full." Google Maps also gives you driving alerts when you enter an area with increasing covid restrictions.

Google says its Tree Canopy Lab uses aerial images and artificial intelligence to see the tree canopy and help cities decide where to plant trees, which keep things cooler. It started with Los Angeles. Previously, the city sent people out to count trees or used light detection and ranging, which, unlike radar, uses pulsed laser light. It's expensive and slow. Google's new service is free. Canopy Lab discovered that over half of Los Angeles residents live in an area where trees shade less than 10% of the neighborhood. The city's average is around 20 percent.

FIREFOX UPDATE

Ever notice how even some websites are missing the "s" in their web address? Instead of https, they lead off with http. That's insecure. But Firefox has an automatic fix.

If you turn on HTTPS-Only Mode in Preferences, Firefox slugs in "https" whenever you land on a site that has "http." I tried it with UCLA.edu, which surprisingly, has an insecure site. It worked great.

To turn on HTTPS-Only mode in Firefox, go to the hamburger icon (three stacked lines) and choose "Preferences." Now click "Privacy and Security." Choose "Enable HTTPS-Only Mode."

The latest version of Firefox also includes a monitor. It pops up to tell you if you're on a site that's been compromised. If such is the case and you have an account there, change your password.

THE DEATH OF LAPTOPS

Laptops can't stand heat. If they get too hot, they die.

To prevent them from overheating, make sure the vents on the bottom, if your laptop has them, are not covered up by your lap or table. This is especially important for Chromebooks, which don't have active cooling systems. Chromebooks can overheat when you have too many tabs or apps open at the same time.

For laptops without vents, consider a cooling pad to rest your laptop on. The pad plugs into your laptop's USB port. Some cooling pads have two USB ports, one to connect your laptop with the pad and one for other devices.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at joy.schwabach@gmail.com.

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