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12 free Windows apps you should download right now

Useful Windows apps are finally hitting the app store, and we’ve showcased 12 that will help streamline your work and personal life in a meaningful way.




windows apps

Free Windows apps for 8.0 and 8.1

Although Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.0 apps are the last to be developed when it comes to Android and iOS competition, the Windows app store is finally filling up with some useful apps, and while most Windows devices come stock with a great deal of useful apps, there are some apps like Evernote that many of us are already accustomed to using, but have waited for the Windows 8 app to come out. Wait no more.

Below are 12 free Windows 8.1 apps that work well on any Windows 8.1 (and some Windows 8.0) devices, including the Microsoft Surface devices. In addition to these 12 below, check out our previously mentioned 10 must-have apps:

  1. Metro Commander: file manager
  2. MyTime: timer app
  3. Qool: digital pinboard
  4. Eyelan Tasks: task management
  5. ToDo: task management
  6. LastPass: password manager
  7. PDF Touch: read, edit PDFs
  8. Pulse: RSS reader
  9. TouchMail: visual email manager
  10. Fotor: photo editor

1. Toolbox

toolbox windows app
lets you view up to six different tools at a time, allowing you to customize your workspace and maximize productivity. Currently fifteen tools are included with more on the way. This has the potential to be really useful as more tools are added.

2. Custom Tiles Maker

custom tiles maker
Custom Tiles Maker
lets you customize your tiles any way you want, to suit your theme or your mood. You can even set your tiles to change after a specified amount of time. Use your own photos and choose a layout to make your tiles, your own. This is a great option for Windows users who want to give their tiles an individualized look, as well as businesses looking to create tiles to match their logo/branding.

3. Xmarks

xmarks windows 8 app
lets you keep your bookmarks and open tabs backed up and synchronized across computers and browsers. You can sync with other devices and search your bookmarks with the Search charm. Xmarks easily keeps your bookmarks organized and accessible.

4. Evernote

helps you remember everything across all your devices. You can create notes and then open them on your smartphone. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. And each note can be stored in an individualized notebook; all the benefits of Evernote, with a Windows spin.

5. OneNote

onenote for windows8
lets you capture, find, and view notes you care about most. You can capture a note through screenshots, camera scans, and via the Share Charm. You can also use the “ink” feature to write on your notes; this is particularly helpful if you need to write a memo on an image you have recently added.

6. Work Notes Pro

work notes app
Work Notes Pro
includes a full suite of audio, video, photo, mapping, sketching and writing capabilities combined with built in productivity tools. It shares media files with contacts, clouds and applications. It also works with other apps like Evernote, OneNote, SkyDrive, Box and Dropbox. They have recently added fifty features, making it even more useful than before.

7. Fhotoroom

fhotoroom app
is a photography experience platform that allows you capture, edit and share your photos. This is a bit like Photo Shop on-the-go. There are ten editing tools, twenty five custom styles, twenty two frames, along with various light leaks and vignettes. You can also share your creation via the Charms Bar, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter.

8. File Brick

file brick app
File Brick
combines local drive and cloud storage to help you explore your files more easily while still providing the full function of a file manager. File Brick also links your social media and media channels; think Facebook + YouTube. This link gives you the ability to browse your friends’ and family’s photos and YouTube channels as easily as you can browse a local folder.

9. flow.timer

is a time-tracking and project management tool for teams. Manage your calendar, schedule, projects and even your payroll from flow.timer. With a single account, you can synchronize across multiple platforms in the cloud. There is also optional integration of data from telephone systems (API). All tasks (planned and completed) can be displayed as Live tiles on the desktop.

10. TeamViewer Touch

team viewer
TeamViewer Touch
lets you remotely control any computer within seconds with the TeamViewer Touch app. This is super nice for tech support or home office support, but also for helping friends and family. Windows, Mac, and Linux are supported.

11. Goals

keeps track of personal, professional, and other goals. After you enter your goal, giving it a start and end date, your main tile will then show your goals according to category: work, learning, hobby, health, etc. You can easily see your goals, as well as, whatever priority you have given them, so you can get things accomplished, quickly.

12. Bitcasa

bitcasa for windows
upgrades your device to infinite storage space. By moving all of your files to Bitcasa, you free up space on your devices. And if you “mirror” folders on your computer to Bitcasa for automatic and continuous backup and you can access your content at any time. Everything is encrypted, so sending and receiving information is safe. This is a very convenient way to store your files while still retaining access to them.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

Tech News

Airbnb has blocked 50K+ bookings for being too big during COVID-19

(NEWS) Airbnb has cancelled a huge number of reservations as a security precaution during COVID-19 in the past year or so.




In the last year or so, Airbnb has purposefully prevented at least 50,000 people from making irresponsible reservations on their properties, in many cases blocking those people from the platform itself. This prevention, at least in theory, helped cut down on the number of COVID parties during the pandemic.

According to The Verge, Airbnb’s head of trust and safety communication, Ben Breit, acknowledged blocked reservations in several cities across the United States, including Dallas, San Diego, and New Orleans. Breit confirmed that this response was an attempt to prevent large gatherings and parties during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic during which many areas banned group activities involving more than a few people.

While some requests for reservations were simply denied or “redirected”, many users were blocked from using Airbnb entirely. Airbnb noted that the number of blocked requests outpaced the number of people who were blocked, signifying that some accounts attempted to make more than one reservation before being removed from the platform.
Airbnb reportedly stated that “Instituting a global ban on parties and events is in the best interest of public health” prior to enacting a total ban on rentals at the beginning of 2020, a decision that gave way to the blocks and redirections in the last 12 months.

The evaluation system used to flag problematic reservations is relatively simple, according to Breit: “If you are under the age of 25 and you don’t have a history of positive reviews, we will not allow you to book an entire home listing local to where you live.”

But Airbnb didn’t entirely remove multiple-body listings or large rentals. The Verge reports that flagged users with the aforementioned criteria were still able to book both small rentals in local locations and larger rentals in reasonably distant locations.

Regardless of the optics here, Airbnb’s policy efficacy can’t be ignored. Multiple cities reported comparatively “quiet” holiday seasons–something that may contribute to Airbnb’s decision to extend their policy through the end of this summer.

The hosting company is also offering increased security measures, such as noise detection and a 24-hour hotline, at a discounted rate to property owners.

As both the vaccine gap and the proliferation of the Delta variant of COVID-19 continue to contribute to outbreaks, one can reasonably expect Airbnb to hold to this policy.

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Tech News

TL;DV summarizes video meetings so folks can catch up in quickly *with* context

(TECHNOLOGY) TL;DV makes catching up on video team meetings slightly more tolerable and easily digestable.




2021 was the year of virtual meetings, and while there are some perks associated with remote collaboration (I’m looking at you, pair of work pants that I didn’t have to wear once this year), these meetings often feel exponentially more arduous than their dressed-up counterparts. TL;DV, a consolidation app for Google Meet, looks to give back a bit of your time.

TL;DV (an acronym for “Too Long; Didn’t View”) is a Google Chrome recording extension that helps users specify important sections of meetings for anyone who needs to view them asynchronously. Users can tag specific segments in Google Meet sessions, transcribe audio, and leave notes above tagged sections for timestamp purposes, and the subsequent file can be shared via a host of both Google and third-party apps.

While the extension is only available for Google Meet at the time of writing, the TL;DV team has included a link to a survey for Zoom and MS Teams users on their site, thus implying that the team is looking into expanding into those platforms in the future.

The mission behind TL;DV is, according to the website, to empower users to “control how we spend our precious time” in the interest of combatting FOMO and meeting fatigue. By dramatically shortening the amount of time one must spend perusing a meeting recording, they seem well on their way to doing so.

Of course, the issue of human oversight remains. It seems likely that meeting facilitators will drop the ball here and there while tagging sections of the recording, and employees who miss crucial information in a recorded session are sure to be frustrated in the process–just not as frustrated as they might be if they attended the entire meeting live.

The current (free) version of TL;DV is in Beta, so users will have a three-hour cap on their videos. The development team promises a professional version by the end of 2021, with the added bonus of leaving prior recordings available for free for anyone who used the Beta. This is certainly an extension to keep an eye on–whether or not you’re remaining remote in 2022, virtual conferencing is no doubt here to stay.

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Tech News

Hiding from facial recognition is a booming business

(TECH NEWS) ‘Cloaking’ is the new way to hide your face. Companies are making big money designing cloaking apps that thwart your features by adding a layer of make up, clothing, blurring, and even transforming you into your favorite celebrity.



Facial recognition companies and those who seek to thwart them are currently locked in a grand game of cat and mouse. Though it’s been relentlessly pursued by police, politicians, and technocrats alike, the increasing use of facial recognition technology in public spaces, workplaces, and housing complexes remains a widely unpopular phenomenon.

So it’s no surprise that there is big money to be made in the field of “cloaking,” or dodging facial recognition tech – particularly during COVID times while facial coverings are, literally, in fashion.

Take Fawkes, a cloaking app designed by researchers at the University of Chicago. It is named for Guy Fawkes, the 17th century English revolutionary whose likeness was popularized as a symbol of anonymity, and solidarity in V For Vendetta.

Fawkes works by subtly overlaying a celebrity’s facial information over your selfies at the pixel level. To your friends, the changes will go completely unnoticed, but to an artificial intelligence trying to identify your face, you’d theoretically look just like Beyonce.

Fawkes isn’t available to the general public yet, but if you’re looking for strategies to fly under the radar of facial recognition, don’t fret; it is just one example of the ways in which cloaking has entered the mainstream.

Other forms of cloaking have emerged in the forms of Tik Tok makeup trends, clothes that confuse recognition algorithms, tools that automatically blur identifying features on the face, and much more. Since effective facial recognition relies on having as much information about human faces as possible, cloaking enthusiasts like Ben Zhao, Professor of computer science at the University of Chicago and co-developer of Fawkes, hope to make facial recognition less effective against the rest of the population too. In an interview with The New York Times, Zhao asserts, “our [team’s] goal is to make Clearview [AI] go away.”

For the uninitiated, Clearview AI is a start-up that recently became infamous for scraping billions of public photos from the internet and privately using them to build the database for a law enforcement facial recognition tool.

The CEO of Clearview, Hoan Ton-That, claimed that the tool would only be improved by these workarounds and that in long run, cloaking is futile. If that sounds like supervillain talk, you might see why he’s earned himself a reputation similar to the likes of Martin Shkreli or Ajit Pai with his company’s uniquely aggressive approach to data harvesting.

It all feels like the beginning of a cyberpunk western: a story of man vs. machine. The deck is stacked, the rules are undecided, and the world is watching. But so far, you can rest assured that no algorithm has completely outsmarted our own eyeballs… yet.

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