An Ode to Microsoft Edge’s Immersive Reader

I am not sure how many people actually know of this sleek user-friendly tool on Microsoft Edge. It is called the Immersive Reader. Staying true to its name, it is a great tool for readers to indulge in.

Take a look at this article with distracting elements (navbar, widgets, ads).

Article without immersive reader enabled

Now, click on the Immersive Reader option next to your URL bar.

Click to enable

And, voila! You can now read the article peacefully.

Immersive Reader Enabled

I feel this is great for reading long articles. It has a very Kindle-like experience to it. You can increase the font size using the “Text Preferences” tool. You can change the theme as well. There are many options which I have not yet explored. As a reader, I want to focus just on the article, with the freedom to increase its font size if need be. This tool offers all that and more.

You can also use the “Read Aloud” feature if you want the article to be read out to you. The voice is as natural as it can get, not sounding robotic.

The Immersive Reader is still in its early stages. It does not always render the correct page, and you have to wait till the page loads completely to see the icon. But so far, I am extremely pleased.

If you do not see the Immersive Reader icon on Microsoft Edge:

  • Make sure you are viewing an article and not the home page
  • Wait till the page loads completely
  • If you still do not see the icon, use read:// before the URL. For example if the URL is πš‘πšπšπš™πšœ://𝚠𝚠𝚠.πš–πšœπš—.πšŒπš˜πš–/πšŽπš—-πš’πš—/πš—πšŽπš πšœ/πš˜πšπš‘πšŽπš›/πšŒπšŽπš—πšπš›πšŠπš•-πšπšŽπšŠπš–-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-πšπš•πš˜πš˜πš-πšπšŠπš–πšŠπšπšŽπšœ-πš’πš—-πš‹πš’πš‘πšŠπš›-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-πšœπšŽπšŽπš”πšœ-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-πšŠπšœπšœπš’πšœπšπšŠπš—πšŒπšŽ/ then use πš›πšŽπšŠπš://πš‘πšπšπš™πšœ://𝚠𝚠𝚠.πš–πšœπš—.πšŒπš˜πš–/πšŽπš—-πš’πš—/πš—πšŽπš πšœ/πš˜πšπš‘πšŽπš›/πšŒπšŽπš—πšπš›πšŠπš•-πšπšŽπšŠπš–-𝚝𝚘-𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚎𝚜𝚜-πšπš•πš˜πš˜πš-πšπšŠπš–πšŠπšπšŽπšœ-πš’πš—-πš‹πš’πš‘πšŠπš›-𝚜𝚝𝚊𝚝𝚎-πšœπšŽπšŽπš”πšœ-𝚊𝚍𝚎𝚚𝚞𝚊𝚝𝚎-πšŠπšœπšœπš’πšœπšπšŠπš—πšŒπšŽ/ to launch the article in the Immersive Reader.

An Ode to the Most Underrated Career Skill

Googling.

Before you laugh, hear me out.

How is Googling a skill? Anyone can search on Google, right?

Yes, but not everyone does. Why? Because most people do not like to research or read.

In the tech industry, many of the answers are easily available online. Just a search away. It is very rare that you are the first one to face an issue. For a lot of coders, Stack Overflow is like a second home.

Whichever industry you are in currently, Googling is a good skill to have. It is right there, all the details, 24×7, for free. If you are able to research and find out an answer on Google for most of your problems, then in my opinion, that IS a skill. To learn more, to be self-reliant, without being overly dependent on others, is a skill.

Even if you get help from someone, you should STILL Google about it to learn more. Most people are too busy to get into in-depth teaching. They will just touch the topic at a high-level. I always make it a point to do some Googling when someone offers me a solution. It has helped me a lot in building on my base knowledge.

Why Do So Many People Dislike Googling?

People are hesitant to Google for an answer even if it is much easier than waiting for an answer from someone.

We are all naturally lazy (including yours truly). We just want all the answers to come to us without effort. We like to be spoon-fed without lifting a finger (even if it is for a search engine that automatically does the rest of the work for you). But growth happens (as clichΓ© as the next line might sound) – β€œoutside our comfort zone.”

I realized many people are bad at Googling when I posted snippets of some random articles on my Instagram story (with the title, website name et all), and my friends still asked me for the link instead of searching on Google using the article name. Mind you, to provide them the article link, I had to go through the exact same steps – search using the article name on Google, copy the URL and paste it on our chat. I did not have the link stored anywhere for easy access.

It continues even today.

Even after explaining to them how to search on Google.

I am not a passive aggressive type, so I find it difficult to use the infamous “sure, let me Google that for you” when someone asks me something that can be easily Googled.

Some Neat Googling Tips & Tricks

Most of the time, we can get what we want by just entering the search query on Google.

But what if we want something extra?

Well, for the curious cats, here are some cool Google search tips and tricks you can use to get a desired result.

  • Double Quotes

My most favourite.

Use double quotes if you want the exact phrase in the same order to appear in your search results.

For example, β€œI want to live in New York” will give results where the phrase appears in the exact same order.

Remove the quotes, and you will have the keywords scattered all over the article, and not exactly in the same order.

Using double quotes is also a great way to search for articles using just their titles.

In the example below, I want to search for posts that have mentioned “I want to live in new york” in the exact same order.

Using Double Quotes to Search for the Exact Phrase on Google
  • Define

Defines a word and also includes an audio clipping on how to pronounce it correctly.

Use Define: followed by the word.

Use Define: to Find Out How a Word is Defined and Pronounced
  • Search

Searches for results on a specific site.

Use Search: followed by the website URL and search query.

In the example below, I want to search all recipes for apple pie on YouTube.

Use Search: to View Search Results from a Specific Site
  • Asterisk *

Use the * asterisk symbol to let Google do the guessing work. This allows you to see the most popular search phrases that match a part of your query.

Insert * wherever you want Google to add in the most popular search words/phrases. In the example below, I have used how to * money, so it will consider popular search phrases like how to make money, how to earn money etc.

Use Asterisk (*) to Search for Missing Words
  • Related

If you find a website you really like, and wish to see similar ones, use Related: followed by the URL of the website you liked.

In the example below, I want websites similar to Udemy that offers courses online.

Use Related: to Find Related Websites
  • Tilde ~

This is a great way to include synonyms.

Use ~ before the word that requires synonyms.

Use Tilde (~) to Find Synonyms
  • Location-specific

If you wish to see search results only related to a specific location use location: after the search phrase.

Use Location: to Find Specific Location Results
  • File Type

In case you are looking for content in a particular format, use filetype: followed by the type of file (example: pdf).

Use Filetype: to Search for Specific Formats
  • Exclude

Exclude something from search results by using dash .

For example, let us consider the example below, when you type -money, this means you want Google to exclude the word “money” from the search results. I have additionally added another exclusion, that is the website YouTube.com.

Exclude Certain Words & Sites from Results (Potato Milk?! You learn something new everyday :))

An Ode to Not Telling Everyone Everything

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels

I am into a new experiment nowadays.

Over the past one year, I have been trying not to announce all my latest material possessions, achievements and personal milestones online.

Why? To find out if I can enjoy them without the world getting to know.

I used to be obsessed with posting everything on the gram. Every little thing. β€œIf it’s not online, it never happened,” applied to me. But then I started getting agitated – when I didn’t get enough likes, when my friends or relatives whom I thought are close didn’t respond as often. It sucked out the joy in me and I felt I was getting more and more negative with every passing post.

It was then that I decided to cut back on announcing everything online.

I realized, weirdly, once online, a personal achievement didn’t feel personal anymore. It is now out in the open for the world to judge. It kind of loses its value (for me, at least).

Exposing something that’s near and dear to you has its cons. Once it’s out there, after a day or two, when the comments and likes dwindle down, you lose the high. And then you are looking for the next high. Another super hit post that can derive the maximum likes and comments. You forget to just β€œsit” with your latest achievement. Your high is not linked with your achievement anymore, it is linked to those likes and comments.

I realized by not posting online, I was able to extend this high. Savor it like slow-cooked food instead of junk. The type of soul-food that’s healthy for you. A high that lasts for days, weeks and sometimes even months. You look back at the milestone and it still seems raw and precious, not yet exposed to anyone’s judgments. It is something that I am enjoying and appreciating a lot honestly.

This is not just applicable for achievements by the way, it can be a selfie that you love, a video you took to capture the beauty around you, a beautiful moment.

Sometimes, the intensity with which you feel about something is not reflected by the people around you, and we all know how big a mood dampener that can be. Our highs might (just might) end up not feeling like a high anymore. Something gets lost in the whole process of displaying things online. For me, it feels like whatever I have posted about has been disconnected from me, and now it’s up to the others to give it value.

I keep telling my friends that if ever there comes up an old-school social media network, that doesn’t rely on validation like likes, I would gladly join it, and ditch the others.

Most of my posts are limited to Insta stories nowadays and are aimed at providing information that others might find helpful in some way – on what I have used, the benefits, cons if any, experiments, thoughts. Rarely about what I have achieved. I share that with my loved ones, but not online.

The rest are for me to savor. For my mind alone, for my heart to hold dear.

An Ode to Peace, Calm and Freedom

Freedom
Photo by Fuzail Ahmad on Pexels

I love to meditate.

I close my eyes and think of all my blessings and feel this surge in energy. It is something everyone should experience. Makes you feel the world is a wonderful place.

But I am privileged.

I can afford to shut my eyes and just lose sense of my surroundings.

There are many right now in war-torn areas who are afraid to even get a good night’s sleep, let alone shut their eyes to meditate.

How did we land up so lucky? To be able to enjoy this peace and calm.

How did they get so unlucky?

Prayers do not seem to be the answer, because for sure many in turbulent places are religious.

It is more or less like a casino, where a country’s fate is decided over a roll of dice.

Only if luck could be donated like money. Everyone would have contributed a bit to ensure no country is left empty.

Still I pray for Afghanistan. It is the only thing I can do.

I pray for other countries too who have not experienced what freedom is like.

It is said that only when you experience something, do you understand its value. When you have never been free, you do not know what it is like, so the pain is less. But when you have experienced freedom and you lose it, you feel pain, because you now know how liberating it can be, and how happy it made you feel.

A bird whose cage has been opened, will look around for a while, unsure and skeptical. But it will eventually fly away and appreciate its new found freedom.

Let’s hope all countries get to that point one day, where the cage opens, and the birds stare at the world in wonder, finally free.. to choose life. The only life they will get to live.