Trending December 2023 # Local Carousel Rankings Are Out: The Verdict # Suggested January 2024 # Top 15 Popular

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Review of Local Carousel Rankings

Everyone is talking about the Digital Marketing Works (DMW) study because it is the first study to go into such detail about the success and factors that go into the local carousel. Here is how the study worked:

They examined more than 4,500 search results in the category of hotels in 47 US cities and made sure that each SERP featured a carousel result.

For each of the top 10 hotels found on each search, they collected the name, rating, quantity of reviews, travel time from the hotel to the searched city, and the rank displayed in the carousel.

They used (equally) hotel search terms—hotels in [city]; best hotels in [city]; downtown [city] hotels; cheap hotels in [city].

This earned them nearly 42,000 data points on approximately 19,000 unique hotels.

They looked at the correlation between a hotel’s rank in a search result based on all of the factors discussed in step 1 to determine which were the most influential.

The actual study comes complete with different screenshots showing graphically what they found for each of the factors. By and large, however, there were four findings that really stood out as something actionable for marketers.

What Influences Carousel Rankings: The Findings

First, carousel rank correlates highly with Google review ratings. This was the information that was most obvious in the study and went for both quality and quantity of reviews. Therefore, marketers should try to optimize and put a focus on more of these reviews.

Second, location does matter. 50 percent of the 1,900 hotels in the study were within 2 miles of the search destination while 75 percent were within 13 minutes. Businesses should then try to urge customers to start searching for specific landmarks as opposed to just the entire city. After all, you never quite know where Google is going to put the “center” of a city.

Third, Google seems to change the weight of different hotels factors based upon the actual search. For example, if someone types in “downtown [city] hotels” Google will see that location is important, whereas if someone types in “best hotels in [city]” then quality must be the most important. As a business, focus on optimizing for every possible nuance.

Fourth, the findings remained the same for both primary and secondary markets. In other words, no hotel is too small to consider online reviews and make it into the carousel.

You're reading Local Carousel Rankings Are Out: The Verdict

Discord Keeps Logging Out? Here Are The Fixes!

Are you getting logged out of Discord randomly? Here is a full guide on how to resolve the problem of rand logout on the Discord app on Windows 11/10 PC. Discord is a popular free voice chat and instant messaging service which has millions of users across the globe. The app is especially popular amongst gamers for real-time communication. While the app is great and works without any hassle, some users have complained of facing various errors and problems. One such problem is that the users keep getting logged out of the Discord app every now and then. This is quite a frustrating glitch that keeps you from using the Discord app.

The reason for this problem is still not clear. However, after analyzing user reports, we can assume it could be due to server problems, account problems, corrupted Discord cache, or bugs in the Discord app. Now, if you are also facing the same issue on Discord, we got you covered. Here, we will be discussing various solutions that will enable you to resolve the problem. Let us get straight to the fixes now.

Discord keeps logging out

Before trying out these methods, we recommend you perform a simple restart. Just restart your PC, launch Discord, and check if the problem is fixed or not. Also, make sure your Windows and GPU drivers are up-to-date. If you still experience the same problem, here are the fixes you should try:

Check Discord’s server status.

Reset your login credentials.

Enable Two-Factor Authentication.

Flush DNS cache.

Delete Discord’s cache.

Try Logging in from a web browser.

Update or Reinstall the Discord app.

Contact Discord’s support team.

1] Check Discord’s server status

The first thing you should do when you keep getting out of Discord randomly is to check the current server status of Discord. There might be a service outage from the end of Discord that is causing login glitches. And if indeed that is the problem, you can’t do anything about it. So, before trying any other fix, make sure Discord servers are not down at the moment. For that, you can use a free service down detector website that lets you check the current status of a service. If Discord’s service is down, you will have to wait for some time for the issue to be resolved.

In case there server status of Discord is well and running, there might be some other problem that requires additional troubleshooting methods to fix. So, move on to the next solution to resolve the problem.

2] Reset your login credentials

You can also try resetting your login credentials to fix the issue. Discord bans users if they violate its terms and services. There are chances that your account might have gotten wrongly flagged for some suspicious activities, but it didn’t disable your account. However, that keeps logging you out from your account. In that case, you can try this workaround which is to change your Discord password and then see if the problem is resolved.

Here are the steps to change Discord’s password:

Firstly, go to the User Settings (gear icon) option and then select the My Account option.

Now, enter your old and then new passwords and press the Done button.

Finally, login back to Discord with the new password and see if the issue is fixed now.

Do note that you will be automatically logged out of Discord on all other devices once you change your password.

See: Fix You are being rate limited Discord error on Windows PC.

3] Enable Two-Factor Authentication

This is a kind of workaround and might help you fix the problem. You can try enabling two-factor authentication in Discord to improve your credibility in case your account is mistakenly flagged as explained in method (2). It is also a good feature to add an extra layer of security to your account. So, there is no harm in using this handy feature.

To enable two-factor authentication, here are the steps to follow:

Provide the current password.

You then need to follow the prompted instructions which are download authenticator app, scan the QR code, and then login with generated code.

When Two-factor Authentication is activated, log out and then login again to your account.

See if this fixes the problem for you. If not, try the next potential fix.

Read: Fix Discord Console Log errors on Windows computer.

4] Flush DNS cache

The random log-outs from Discord might be a result of the corrupted DNS cache or some other DNS issues. In that case, you can try clearing the DNS cache using a simple command in CMD. Simply launch Command Prompt as an administrator and then enter ipconfig /flushdns in it. Let the command execute fully and after that, check whether the problem is resolved now.

5] Delete Discord’s cache

Another fix that you can try to resolve is deleting Discord’s cache from your device. This is effective in case you are dealing with bad and corrupted cache data that is causing a random log-out glitch on Discord. So, clear Discord’s cached data and then see if the problem is resolved. Here are the steps to do that:

Firstly, press the Windows + R hotkey to evoke the Run dialog box.

Now, type %appdata%discord in it and press the Enter button.

Next, locate the following folders including Cache, Code Cache, and GPUCache, and select them.

After that, press the Delete button to clear these folders.

Finally, restart Discord and then see if the problem is resolved now.

See: Discord won’t open or Stuck on Connecting screen in Windows PC.

6] Try Logging in from a web browser

If you still keep getting logged out of Discord while using the app on Windows 11/10, you can try switching the platform. Discord is available for all major platforms, so you can try it on android, iOS, etc. However, if you want to use it on a Windows PC, you can use its web app. Simply open Discord in a web browser like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or whichever one you prefer, and then log in to your account. See if the issue is now fixed.

7] Update or Reinstall the Discord app

If you are not using the latest version of Discord, consider updating it. Outdated versions tend to cause different issues, and the random logout problem might be one of those problems. So, update Discord to the latest build.

In case updating the app doesn’t help you, the problem might be caused due to corrupted or faulty installation of Discord on your PC. If the scenario applies, you should be able to fix it up by reinstalling the Discord app. For that, you will first have to uninstall the app from your PC and then reinstall it. Here is a sorted step by step procedure to do that:

Firstly, open Task Manager and end all tasks related to Discord.

Next, reboot your PC and then go to Discord’s website and download the latest version of the app.

After that, run the installer and complete the installation of the Discord app.

Finally, launch Discord and see if the problem is resolved now.

Read: Fix Discord Connection issues on Windows PC

8] Contact Discord’s support team

If none of the above solutions works for you, the last resort is to contact the official support team of Discord. Go to Discord’s official support page and submit a ticket explaining your problem. They will revert back and might help you fix the problem. In case there are some problems related to your account that keep getting you logged out of your account randomly, they will tell you about that. You can also try contacting Discord’s support team on social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc.

See: Fix Discord Notification Sound not working on Windows PC.

Why does Discord keep popping up?

When you install Discord on your Windows PC, it is set as a startup application by default. So, whenever you start Windows, Discord will automatically pop up. Now, if you want to stop Discord from launching on Windows startup, here are the steps you can follow:

Firstly, open Task Manager using Ctrl + Shift + Esc hotkey.

Now, move to the Startup tab.

Next, locate the Discord app here and select it.

How do I fix Discord keeps logging out?

In order to fix this problem, you need to check the Discord’s server status first. Following that, you can reset the login credentials if there was some attack in the recent past. Next, you can turn on the two-step verification and flush the DNS cache. It is also suggested to verify your internet connection and switch it if needed.

Why does Discord glitch out?

The main reason why Discord is having such issues is because there are some problems with the Discord server. The same problem might occur due to the invalid internet connection on your computer. In that case, you need to switch to a different internet connection first. Next, you need to verify whether your Discord doesn’t have nay corrupt system file or not.

That’s it! Hope this helps.

Now read: Fix Discord RTC Connecting No Route error.

5 Proven Ways To Increase Your Google Rankings

Many things have changed in SEO since Google first came online in 1998.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is this: Your organic traffic is directly related to your search engine ranking positions.

If you have a prolific number of keywords in the Google index and they appear at or near the top of the search results, boundless traffic will follow.

Conversely, if you have a great website, but no visibility in the SERPs, you are destined to have little if any organic search traffic.

In this post, I’m going to break down the steps needed to boost your Google SERPs. That said, I know you are equally interested in knowing the following.

[Discover:] Our complete technical SEO audit workbook

How Long Does It Take To Improve Google Rankings?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you the definitive answer, “It depends.”

While I recognize this is frustrating and seems like a copout, it’s the truth. SEO doesn’t happen in a vacuum and every situation offers a unique set of variables.

Skill, budget, the level of competition, and how your website stacks up can all play a role in how quickly one can move the dial.

So, bearing that in mind, let’s break it down in a more quantifiable sense and review what you can do to make things happen sooner, rather than later.

During an episode of AskGooglebot in June of 2023, John Mueller, a Google search rep, said it can take “several hours to several weeks” for Google to index new or updated content. He also warned that just because a page gets indexed, doesn’t mean that it will rank for anything right away, if ever.

Due to the number of factors in play, rapid changes in SERPs should not be expected.

Mueller has said in the past that even if you make drastic changes to your website’s design and functionality, it could still take a couple of months or even a year to have an impact.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you should just sit and wait after you upgrade your site. He mentioned some specific ideas for speeding up indexing, which included:

Preventing server overload by making your server and website faster.

Prominently linking to new pages.

Avoiding the use of unnecessary URLs, like category page filters.

Finally, Mueller reiterated the best way to get ranked is to create high-quality content that searchers will find useful. In his words, make your site “fantastic.”

How To Improve Your Google Rankings

To reach the top 10 SERPs in less than a year takes lots of hard work, skill, and sometimes luck.

And this takes us back to the topic of today’s discussion on how to improve your Google ranking.

So, if you want to boost sales and conversions by taking your website to the first page of Google, here are five steps you should take.

1. Start With A Sound Foundation

Poor website structure and information architecture can doom even the best SEO campaigns.

If your website is difficult for users to navigate and Google to crawl, your rankings are likely to suffer. Pay attention to Core Web Vitals.

Perform A Technical SEO Audit

The Google algorithm incorporates thousands of signals, plus machine learning and AI to determine search rankings.

2. Deliver A Great Page Experience

Google defines page experience as “a set of signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page beyond its pure information value, both on mobile and desktop devices. “

Core Web Vitals

Whether it’s a mobile or desktop site, you must continuously monitor the speed and keep improving it. Specifically, Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS).

File Size

For file size, use your favorite image editing program.

Before uploading, you can further optimize the size of the file with apps like Optimizilla, Image Recycle, and

Lastly, always confirm that the dimensions of the image fit into the reserved image space to retain a clean, structured look of your live webpage.

Browser Caching

That way, when a user navigates to a new page, those resources need not be loaded again.

For most, the best way to enable caching is by adding code to the web host/server .htaccess file.

For WordPress, there are free plugins available to accomplish this, like WP SuperCache.

Script Handling

Before loading countless JS and CSS files to enhance your site, make sure that you need those extra augmentations as they end up slowing down your website.

And if it’s possible to merge several scripts into a single file, go for it. That way, there will only be one retrieving call to the server to load all the scripts.

Here are some tools that can help you measure and monitor Core Web Vitals.

Mobile Friendly

With the evolution of search and the mobile-first index, your website needs to pass the Mobile-Friendly Test.

According to Google “… our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content… Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking…”

To avoid mobile ranking problems, you should double down on search intent and performance.


Check if your site’s connection is secure. If the page isn’t served over HTTPS, learn how to make it secure.

No Intrusive Interstitials

Intrusive interstitials are page elements that obscure content from the view of users, typically for the purpose of promotion.

[Technical SEO Audit] Download the free workbook →

3. Optimize Your Pages For Google

It goes without saying that you must write great content that will keep readers engaged so that they can read to the last paragraph.

To quickly win them over your target audience, start with a quick summary intro that tells the readers what they expect to find in that post.

Now, to make your content friendly for Google, some of the best strategies you can implement are:

Tell Google What Your Pages Are About

Do this by adding structured data throughout your site. That way, Google can easily understand what your content is about. is the format preferred by Google. Schema types include recipes, businesses, products, authors, and more.

Keep Your Titles Short

Apart from turning off your readers as it will be impossible for them to get the full info at a glance, extra-long titles will also hurt your keywords’ SEO impact.

To properly fit the SERP length, keep your titles between 135 and 159 characters. SEO plugins can help you identify titles with excessive characters.

Craft Unique Titles & Meta Descriptions

Even though titles and meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on your website’s ranking, they are quite significant in portraying your content’s value from the SERP.

So, make sure that you write unique titles with a simple and attractive description that also contains a target keyword.

Additionally, you should also know that if you don’t write your own unique and vivid meta descriptions with target keywords for your pages, Google will auto-generate them.

Obviously, the auto-generated ones won’t be as effective for your site as the ones you have properly crafted. Still, you should also be careful not to stuff your titles and descriptions with keywords.

Be Specific In Your Internal Anchor Text

Get straight to the point if you want your content to rank for a specific keyword.

Many websites out there unknowingly use vague and elusive anchor texts to link to other pages within their site.

This is a huge mistake because it will not be a clear enough anchor to your visitors and even the search engines.

4. Optimize For Search Intent

The evolution of modern search has its roots in Hummingbird, later supplemented by Rankbrain and then BERT.

The end game for Google is to better understand the context of a search to serve up results that match the intent of a given query. In fact, Google’s continued success depends on it.

Four common types of search (a.k.a. user) intent are:

Navigational – a search for a particular website.

Informational – a search for knowledge.

Commercial – a search for data (like reviews) to make an informed purchase decision.

Transactional – a search to make a purchase (where to buy).

How To Optimize For Search Intent

Check the SERPs for the keyword phrase that you are interested in ranking for. If the top results don’t align with your page, you aren’t going to rank. In other words, if Google has decided the intent of a search is informational and your page is transactional, that page will not rank well.

In cases where a page does not match the top results/search intent, you have two choices:

Edit your page to match the intent.

Create a new page to match the intent.

5. Optimize Internal Links

The links on your website must be placed strategically, and you must ensure that all the links are working properly as well. Here are a few tricks to polish your link game.

Link Architecture

A proper internal linking strategy will mean that your best pages appear on the first level.

An effective way of doing this is creating a home page section that links directly to your ‘Best-Selling Products’ or ‘Top Categories’.

Fix Broken Links & Duplicates

Some website owners have a habit of ignoring broken links because they don’t realize the impact of the poor user experience they create.

By running a crawl on your site with tools like Sitebulb, you can easily spot the 404 errors and fix them in a jiffy!

Reclaim Your Site Mentions

Reclaim the mentions of your site by setting a Google Alert that will help you keep track of your brand mentions across the internet.

And in case any of the mentions come without being linked back to your site, contact the webmaster and request them to link back!

[Recommended Read] → The Ultimate Technical SEO Audit Workbook


SEO can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to get caught up in the paralysis of analysis and do nothing.

That said, it’s important to remember that even in 2023, simply paying attention to the basics, as outlined above, will position you for online success.

More Resources:

Featured Image: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

Avast Secureline Vpn Review: Pros, Cons, Verdict (2023)

Avast SecureLine VPN

Adrian Try

Effectiveness: Private and secure, poor streaming

Price: Starting $55.20 per year (up to 10 devices)

Ease of Use: Very simple and easy to use

Support: Knowledgebase, forum, web form

Ever feel like you’re being watched or followed? Or someone’s listening in to your phone conversations? “Do we have a secure line?” You’ve probably heard that said a hundred times in spy movies. Avast offers you a secure line to the internet: Avast SecureLine VPN.

A VPN is a “Virtual Private Network”, and helps protect your privacy and enhance your security when you’re online, as well as tunnel through to sites that have been blocked. Avast’s software doesn’t try to do more than it needs to, and is fast, but not the fastest. It’s easy to set up, even if you’ve never used a VPN before.

Why Trust Me for This Avast VPN Review?

I’m Adrian Try, and I’ve been using computers since the 80s and the internet since the 90s. I’ve been an IT manager and tech support guy, and know the importance of using and encouraging safe internet practices.

I’ve used a number of remote access applications over the years. In one job we used GoToMyPC to update our contact database on the main office’s server, and as a freelancer, I’ve used a number of mobile solutions to access my iMac when out and about.

I’m familiar with Avast, having used and recommended their antivirus program for many years, and making it my business to keep up to date with the best security practices and solutions. I downloaded and thoroughly tested Avast SecureLine VPN, and researched the testing and opinions of industry experts.

Avast SecureLine VPN Review: What’s In It for You?

Avast SecureLine VPN is all about protecting your privacy and security online, and I’ll list its features in the following four sections. In each sub-section, I’ll explore what the app offers and then share my personal take.

1. Privacy through Online Anonymity

Do you feel like you’re being watched or followed? You are. When you surf the internet, your IP address and system information are sent along with each packet. That means:

A VPN can help by making you anonymous. That’s because your online traffic will no longer carry your own IP address, but that of the network you’re connected to. Everyone else connected to that server shares the same IP address, so you get lost in the crowd. You’re effectively hiding your identity behind the network, and have become untraceable. At least in theory.

The problem is that now your VPN service can see your IP address, system information, and traffic, and could (in theory) log it. That means if privacy is important to you, you’ll need to do some homework before choosing a VPN service. Check their privacy policy, whether they keep logs, and whether they have a history of handing user data over to law enforcement.

Avast SecureLine VPN doesn’t keep logs of the data you send and receive online. That’s a good thing. But they do keep logs of your connections to their service: when you connect and disconnect, and how much data you’ve sent and received. They’re not alone in this and delete the logs every 30 days.

Some competitors don’t keep any logs at all, which may suit you better if privacy is your biggest concern.

Industry experts have tested for “DNS leaks”, where some of your identifiable information may still fall through the cracks. In general, these tests have indicated no leaks in Avast SecureLine.

Another way you can be identified is through your financial transactions with your VPN service. Some services allow you to pay by Bitcoin, and that way they have absolutely no way to identify you. Avast doesn’t do this. Payment must be made by BPAY, credit/debit card, or PayPal.

My personal take: There’s never a guarantee of perfect anonymity, but Avast does a pretty good job of protecting your online privacy. If online anonymity is your absolute priority, look for a service that keeps no logs and allows payment via Bitcoin. But Avast provides privacy sufficient enough for most users.

2. Security through Strong Encryption

The traceable information that normal browsing broadcasts isn’t just a threat to your privacy, but to your security as well, especially in certain situations:

On a public wireless network, say at a coffee shop, anyone else on that network with the right software (for packet sniffing) can intercept and log the data sent between you and the public router.

Maybe the coffee shop doesn’t even have wifi, but a hacker can set up a fake hotspot to make you think it does. You end up sending your data straight to the hacker.

In these cases, they don’t just see your data—they could also redirect you to fake sites where they can steal your accounts and passwords.

A VPN is an effective defense against this type of attack. Governments, the military, and large corporations have been using them as a security solution for decades.

They achieve this by creating a secure, encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN server. Avast SecureLine VPN offers users strong encryption and pretty good security in general. Unlike some VPNs, though, it doesn’t offer a choice of encryption protocols.

The cost of this security is speed. First, running your traffic through your VPN’s server is slower than accessing the internet directly. And adding encryption slows it down a little more. Some VPNs handle this quite well, while others significantly slow down your traffic. I’ve heard that Avast’s VPN is reasonably fast, but not the fastest, so I decided to test it.

Before I installed and activated the software, I tested my internet speed. If you’re not impressed, I live in a part of Australia that’s not too speedy, and my son was gaming at the time. (The test I ran while he was still at school was twice as fast.)

When connected to one of Avast SecureLine’s Australian servers (according to Avast, my “optimal server”), I noticed a significant slow-down.

Connecting to an overseas server was even slower. When connected to Avast’s Atlanta server, my ping and upload speeds were significantly slower.

My speed through a London server was a little slower again.

My experience is that download speeds may be 50-75% of unprotected speeds. While that’s fairly typical, there are faster VPNs out there.

If security is your priority, Avast offers a feature that not all services do: a kill switch. If you’re unexpectedly disconnected from your VPN, SecureLine can block all internet access until you reconnect. This feature is turned off by default, but is easy to enable in the settings.

I continued testing Avast’s speed (along with five other VPN services) over the next few weeks (including after I got my internet speed sorted out) and found Avast’s speeds in the middle of the range. The fastest speed I achieved when connected was 62.04 Mbps, which was a high 80% of my normal (unprotected) speed. The average of all the servers I tested was 29.85 Mbps. If you’d like to wade through them, here are the results from every speed test I performed:

Unprotected speeds (no VPN)

2023-04-05 4:55 pm Unprotected 20.30

2023-04-24 3:49 pm Unprotected 69.88

2023-04-24 3:50 pm Unprotected 67.63

2023-04-24 4:21 pm Unprotected 74.04

2023-04-24 4.31 pm Unprotected 97.86

Australian servers (closest to me)

2023-04-05 4:57 pm Australia (Melbourne) 14.88 (73%)

2023-04-05 4:59 pm Australia (Melbourne) 12.01 (59%)

2023-04-24 3:52 pm Australia (Melbourne) 62.04 (80%)

2023-04-24 3:56 pm Australia (Melbourne) 35.22 (46%)

2023-04-24 4:20 pm Australia (Melbourne) 51.51 (67%)

US servers

2023-04-05 5:01 pm US (Atlanta) 10.51 (52%)

2023-04-24 4:01 pm US (Gotham City) 36.27 (47%)

2023-04-24 4:05 pm US (Miami) 16.62 (21%)

2023-04-24 4:07 pm US (New York) 10.26 (13%)

2023-04-24 4:08 pm US (Atlanta) 16.55 (21%)

2023-04-24 4:11 pm US (Los Angeles) 42.47 (55%)

2023-04-24 4:13 pm US (Washington) 29.36 (38%)

European servers

2023-04-05 5:05 pm UK (London) 10.70 (53%)

2023-04-05 5:08 pm UK (Wonderland) 5.80 (29%)

2023-04-24 3:59 pm UK (Wonderland) 11.12 (14%)

2023-04-24 4:14 pm UK (Glasgow) 25.26 (33%)

2023-04-24 4:17 pm UK (London) 21.48 (28%)

Notice that the fastest speeds were on the Australian servers closest to me, though I did have one good result on a Los Angeles server on the other side of the world. Your results will vary from mine depending on where you are in the world.

Finally, while a VPN can protect you from malicious files, I was surprised to discover that one reviewer discovered some adware inside the Avast SecureLine VPN software. So I scanned the installer on my iMac with Bitdefender Virus Scanner, and confirmed it does indeed contain adware. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised—I remember the free version of Avast Antivirus being ad-supported. Not ideal in an app designed to make you more secure!

My personal take: Avast SecureLine VST will make you more secure online. Other VSTs may offer a little more security through additional features and options, and Avast’s inclusion of adware is disappointing.

3. Access Sites that Have Been Blocked Locally

Businesses, schools, and governments can restrict access to the sites you are able to visit. For example, a business may block access to Facebook so you don’t waste your work hours there, and some governments may censor content from the outside world. A VPN can tunnel through those blocks.

But do so at your own risk. Using Avast SecureLine to bypass your employer’s filters while at work may cost you your job, and bypassing a country’s internet censorship may end you up in hot water. For example, in 2023 China started to identify and block VPNs—call it the Great Firewall of China—and in 2023 they have started to fine individuals who circumvent these measures, not just the service providers.

My personal take: A VPN can give you access to the sites your employer, educational institution or government are trying to block. Exercise caution when deciding to do this.

4. Access Streaming Services that Have Been Blocked by the Provider

Some blocking comes on the other side of the connection, particularly when service providers want to limit the content to limited geographical regions. Avast SecureLine can help here, too, by allowing you to decide which country it looks like you’re in.

We’ll cover this in more depth in a separate article, but Netflix and other streaming content providers don’t offer all shows and movies in all countries, not because of their own agendas but because of the copyright holders. A show’s distributor may have given one network exclusive rights in a particular country, so they can’t sell Netflix the rights to show it there as well. Netflix is obliged to block it from anyone in that country.

A VPN can allow you to choose which country it appears you are in, which may help you bypass Netflix’s filter. So, since January 2023, they’ve been proactively trying to block VPNs, and have had a fair amount of success.

This is a concern—not just if you want to access another country’s shows, but even if you just use a VPN to enhance your security. Netflix will try to block all VPN traffic, even if you just want to access local shows. When using Avast SecureLine, your Netflix content also has to go through the VPN. Other VPN solutions provide something called “split tunneling”, where you can decide what traffic goes through the VPN and what doesn’t.

So you need a VPN that’s able to access the streaming services you use, like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and the BBC. How effective is Avast Secureline? It’s not bad, but not the best. It has servers in many countries, but only four are “optimized for streaming”—one in the UK, and three in the US.

I tested whether I could access Netflix and the BBC iPlayer (which is only available in the UK) while Avast SecureLine VPN was enabled.

Streaming Content from Netflix

Notice the different ratings for “The Highwaymen” depending on the location of the server I had accessed. You may find that Netflix does block you from a certain server. Just try another one until you’re successful.

Unfortunately I didn’t have much success streaming content from Netflix. I tried eight servers at random, and only one (in Glasgow) was successful.

Random servers

2023-04-24 3:53 pm Australia (Melbourne) NO

2023-04-24 3:56 pm Australia (Melbourne) NO

2023-04-24 4:09 pm US (Atlanta) NO

2023-04-24 4:11 pm US (Los Angeles) NO

2023-04-24 4:13 pm US (Washington) NO

2023-04-24 4:15 pm UK (Glasgow) YES

2023-04-24 4:18 pm UK (London) NO

2023-04-24 4:20 pm Australia (Melbourne) NO

It was then that I noticed that Avast offers four special servers that are optimized for streaming. Surely I’ll have more success with them.

Unfortunately not. Every optimized server failed.

2023-04-24 3:59 pm UK (Wonderland) NO

2023-04-24 4:03 pm US (Gotham City) NO

2023-04-24 4:05 pm US (Miami) NO

2023-04-24 4:07 pm US (New York) NO

One server out of twelve is an 8% success rate, a spectacular fail. As a result, I can’t recommend Avast SecureLine for Netflix viewing. In my tests, I found it to have the poorest results by far. To compare, NordVPN had a 100% success rate, and Astrill VPN wasn’t far behind, with 83%.

Streaming Content from BBC iPlayer

Unfortunately, I had a similar lack of success when streaming from the BBC.

I tried all three UK servers but only had success with one.

2023-04-24 3:59 pm UK (Wonderland) NO

2023-04-24 4:16 pm UK (Glasgow) YES

2023-04-24 4:18 pm UK (London) NO

Other VPNs have more success. For example, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and PureVPN all had a 100% success rate.

Streaming content is not the only benefit you get when using a VPN to appear that you’re in another country. You can also use them to save money when purchasing tickets. That’s especially helpful when you’re flying—reservation centers and airlines offer different prices to different countries.

My personal take: I don’t want to have to turn off my VPN and compromise my security every time I watch Netflix, but unfortunately that’s exactly what I’d have to do when using Avast SecureLine. Are you curious about which VPN is best for Netflix? Then read our full review. So was happy to see I can still access it. I wish that more “streaming optimized” servers were offered and that I had more luck accessing the BBC’s content.

Reasons Behind My Ratings

Effectiveness: 3/5

Avast includes the essential features to make your online activities more private and more secure and offers an acceptable but average download speed. However, it is my tests when trying to connect to streaming services were very poor. If this is important to you, I cannot recommend Avast SecureLine.

Price: 4/5

Avast’s price structure is a little more complex than other VPNs. If you need a VPN on multiple devices, then Avast is in the middle of the range. If you only need it on one mobile device, it’s relatively inexpensive.

Ease of Use: 5/5

Avast SecureLine VPN’s main interface is a simple on and off switch, and easy to use. Selecting a server in a different location is simple, and changing settings is straightforward.

Support: 4.5/5

Avast offers a searchable knowledgebase and user forum for SecureLine VPN. Support can be contacted via a web form. Some reviewers indicated that technical support could only be contacted by phone and that an additional fee was charged. That no longer seems to be the case, at least in Australia.

Alternatives to Avast VPN

ExpressVPN is a fast and secure VPN that combines power with usability and has a good track record with accessing Netflix. A single subscription covers all your devices. It’s not cheap but is one of the best VPNs available. Read our full ExpressVPN review for more.

NordVPN is another excellent VPN solution that uses a map-based interface when connecting to servers. Read our full NordVPN review for more.

Astrill VPN is an easy-to-configure VPN solution with reasonably fast speeds. Read our in-depth Astrill VPN review for more.

You may also check out our roundup review of the best VPNs for Mac, Netflix, Fire TV Stick, and routers.


If you’re already using Avast’s popular antivirus product, you may want to stay within the family when choosing a VPN. It’s available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. You can protect up to ten devices for $55.20/year. But if streaming content from Netflix or elsewhere is important to you, give Avast a miss.

VPNs aren’t perfect, and there’s no way to absolutely ensure privacy on the internet. But they’re a good first line of defense against those who want to track your online behavior and spy on your data.

1Password Review: Still Worth It In 2023? (My Verdict)


Adrian Try

Effectiveness: Offers many convenient features

Price: No free plan, from $35.88/year

Ease of Use: You may need to consult the manual

Support: Articles, YouTube, forum

Why Trust Me for This 1Password Review?

My name is Adrian Try, and password managers have been a solid part of my life for over a decade. I briefly tried Roboform almost 20 years ago, and have used password managers daily since 2009.

I started with LastPass, and soon afterward the company I was working for asked all of its employees to use it. They were able to give team members access to website logins without actually sharing the password. I set up different LastPass profiles to match my various roles and automatically switched between them by simply changing profiles in Google Chrome. The system worked well.

Some of my family members have also become convinced of the value of a password manager, and are using 1Password. Others continue to use the same simple password that they’ve been using for decades. If you’re like them, I hope this review will change your mind.

For the last few years I’ve been using the default Apple solution—iCloud Keychain—to see how it holds up to the competition. It suggests strong passwords when I need them (though not as strong as 1Password’s), syncs them to all my Apple devices, and offers to fill them in on web pages and apps. It’s definitely better than not using a password manager at all, but I’m looking forward to evaluating other solutions again as I write these reviews.

So I installed the trial version of 1Password on my iMac and tested it thoroughly for a week.

1Password Review: What’s In It For You?

1Password is all about secure password practices and more, and I’ll list its features in the following six sections. In each subsection, I’ll explore what the app offers and then share my personal take.

1. Securely Store Your Passwords

You might wonder if storing all of your passwords in the same place on the internet is worse than keeping them on a sheet of paper in your drawer. After all, if someone managed to access your 1Password account, they’d have access to everything! That’s a valid concern. But I believe that by using reasonable security measures, password managers are the safest places to store sensitive information.

That starts with you. Use a strong 1Password Master Password, don’t share it with anyone, and don’t leave it lying around on a scrap of paper.

Next, 1Password gives you a 34-character Secret Key that you will need to enter when logging in from a new device or web browser. The combination of a strong master password and secret key makes it almost impossible for a hacker to gain access. The secret key is a unique security feature of 1Password and isn’t offered by any of the competition.

You should store your Secret Key somewhere it will be safe but available, but you can always copy it from 1Password’s Preferences if you have it installed on a different device.

Pressing the “Set up other devices” button displays a QR code that can be scanned on another device or computer when setting up 1Password.

As an additional security precaution, you can turn on two-factor authentication (2FA). Then you will need more than your master password and secret key when you sign in on a new device: you’ll need a code from an authenticator app on your mobile device. 1Password also prompts you to use 2FA on any third-party services that support it.

Once 1Password knows your passwords it will automatically place them into set categories. You can organize them further by adding your own tags.

1Password will remember new passwords as you create new accounts, but you’ll have to enter your existing passwords manually—there’s no way to import them into the app. You can do that all at once, or one at a time as you access each website. To do that, select New Login from the drop-down menu.

Fill in your username, password, and any other details.

You can organize your passwords into multiple vaults to keep your work and personal passwords separate or organize them into categories. By default, there are two vaults, Private and Shared. You can use more finely-tuned vaults to share a set of logins with certain groups of people.

My personal take: A password manager is the most secure and convenient way to work with the multitude of passwords we need to deal with each day. They are stored online using multiple security strategies, then synced onto each of your devices so they are accessible anywhere and any time you need them.

2. Generate Strong, Unique Passwords for Each Website

Your passwords should be strong—fairly long and not a dictionary word—so they are hard to break. And they should be unique so that if your password for one site is compromised, your other sites won’t be vulnerable.

That password will be hard to hack, but it will be hard to remember, too. Fortunately, 1Password will remember it for you, and fill it in automatically each time you log in to the service, whichever device you log in from.

My personal take: Our email, photos, personal details, contact details, and even our money are all available online and protected by a simple password. Coming up with a strong, unique password for every site sounds like a lot of work, and a lot to remember. Fortunately, 1Password will do the work and remembering for you.

3. Automatically Log in to Websites

Now that you have long, strong passwords for all of your web services, you’ll appreciate 1Password filling them in for you. You can do that from the menu bar icon (the “mini-app”), but you’ll have a nicer experience if you install the 1Password X extension for each browser you use. (It’s installed automatically for Safari on the Mac.)

Once installed, 1Password will offer to fill the password in for you, as long as you are logged in to the service and it hasn’t timed out. Otherwise, you’ll need to enter your 1Password master password first.

Version 4 could also log into applications, but that feature hasn’t been fully implemented since the codebase was rewritten for Version 6. The same can be said about web forms. Previous versions were able to do this well, but the feature has not yet been fully implemented in Version 7.

My personal take: Have you ever had to enter a long password multiple times because you couldn’t see what you were typing? Even if you get it right the first time, it can still become frustrating. Now that 1Password will type it for you automatically, your passwords can be as long and complex as you like. That’s extra security with no effort.

4. Grant Access Without Sharing Passwords

If you have a family or business plan, 1Password allows you to share your passwords with your employees, coworkers, spouse, and children—and does this without them knowing what the password is. That’s a great feature because kids and employees are not always as careful as they should be with passwords, and may even share them with others.

To share access to a site with everyone on your family or business plan, just move the item to your Shared vault.

Of course, you shouldn’t share everything with your kids, but giving them access to your wireless network password or Netflix is a great idea. You wouldn’t believe how often I have to repeat passwords to my family!

If there are some passwords you want to share with certain people but not everyone, you can create a new vault and manage who has access.

My personal take: As my roles in various teams evolved over the years, my managers were able to grant and withdraw access to various web services. I never needed to know the passwords, I would just be automatically logged in when navigating to the site. That’s especially helpful when someone leaves a team. Because they never knew the passwords to begin with, removing their access to your web services is easy and foolproof.

5. Securely Store Private Documents and Information

1Password isn’t just for passwords. You can also use it for private documents and other personal information, storing them in different vaults and organizing them with tags. That way you can keep all of your important, sensitive information in one place.

1Password allows you to store:


secure notes,

credit card details,




bank account details,

database credentials,

drivers licenses,

email account credentials,


outdoor licenses,


reward programs,

server logins,

social security numbers,

software licenses,

wireless router passwords.

Documents can be added by dragging them onto the app, but 1Password doesn’t allow you to take photos of your cards and papers with your phone’s camera. Personal, Family and Team plans are allocated 1 GB of storage per user, and Business and Enterprise plans receive 5 GB per user. That should be more than enough for private documents that you want to keep available but secure.

When traveling, 1Password has a special mode that removes your personal data from your mobile device and stores it inside of your vault. Once you reach your destination, you can restore it with a single tap.

My personal take: Think of 1Password as a secure Dropbox. Store all of your sensitive documents there, and its enhanced security will keep them safe from prying eyes.

6. Be Warned About Password Concerns

From time to time, a web service that you use will be hacked, and your password compromised. That’s a great time to change your password! But how do you know when that happens? It’s hard to keep track of so many logins. 1Password’s Watchtower can let you know.

Watchtower is a security dashboard that shows you:


compromised logins

reused passwords

two-factor authentication

Other password managers offer similar features, sometimes with more functionality. For example, when it comes time to change a password that might be vulnerable, 1Password doesn’t offer a way of doing it automatically. That’s a feature that some other password managers do offer.

My personal take: You can be as careful with your passwords as possible, but if a web service is compromised, the hacker can gain access to them all, then sell them to whoever is willing to pay. 1Password keeps track of these breaches (as well as other security concerns) and notifies you whenever you need to change your password.

Reasons Behind My Review Ratings

Effectiveness: 4.5/5

1Password is one of the most popular password managers out there, and for good reason. It contains more features than the competition (though recent versions can’t fill in web forms or application passwords), and is available on just about every platform out there.

Price: 4/5

While many password managers offer a basic free plan, 1Password doesn’t. You’ll need to pay $36/year to use it, which is about the same as major competitors charge for an equivalent service. If you’re committed to paying for a plan, 1Password is affordable and reasonable value—especially the Family plan.

Ease of Use: 4.5/5

I found 1Password very easy to use, despite being a little quirky from time to time. I did need to consult the manual when testing a few features, but the instructions were clear and easy to find.

Support: 4.5/5

The 1Password Support page offers searchable articles with quick links to articles that help you get started, become familiar with the apps, and popular articles. A good selection of YouTube videos is also available, and the 24/7 support forum is helpful. There is no live chat or phone support, but that’s typical of most password management software.

Final Verdict

Today, everyone needs a password manager because passwords are a problem: if they’re easy to remember they’re easy to crack. Strong passwords are hard to remember and difficult to type, and you need so many of them!

So what can you do? Keep them on Post-It notes stuck to your monitor? Use the same password for every site? No, those practices introduce significant security risks. The most secure practice today is to use a password manager.

1Password will create unique strong passwords for every site you log into, and automatically fill them in for you—regardless of which device you’re using. You just need to remember your 1Password master password. It works with most devices, web browsers, and operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux), so your passwords will be available whenever they are needed, including on mobile devices (iOS, Android).

It’s a premium service that dates back to 2005 and offers more features than the competition. You’ll need to pay for the service, and if you’re serious about security (as you should be) you’ll consider it money well spent. Unlike much of the competition, a free basic plan is not offered. But you can try it free for 14 days. Here are the costs of the main plans offered:

Personal: $35.88/year,

Family (5 family members included): $59.88/year,

Team: $47.88/user/year,

Business: $95.88/user/year.

Other than the lack of a free plan, these prices are quite competitive, and the Family plan represents very good value. Overall, I think1Password offers excellent features and value. I recommend you get the free trial to see if it meets your needs.

Illustrators Are Out Of Job, Thanks To Google’s Imagen And Openai’s Dall

The accuracy of the images generated depends hugely on how much noise it can cut off from the data

Artificial intelligence has come a long way in replacing human agency with automated mechanisms. The recent developments in the domain of art-making is only proof of its creative capabilities, so much so that it is being perceived as a threat to illustrator jobs. Illustrating is a creative vocation that in the commercial domain doesn’t remain so, at least in certain areas. Well, it depends on what is the goal and the inputs used to generate the image. Earlier too, we have seen numerous AI image generators such as Anonimyzer, DeepDream, DeepAI, etc., but none have been even close to generating uncanny images like the ones generated by Open AI’s Dalle E-2. Recently Google has released a new AI image generator that takes written commands to generate images. Imagen is considered the perfect solution for problems that put limits on imagination. Yes, digital designers understand pretty well what it is like to generate an image of two people sitting in front of a Paris tower. Does this mean it’s time illustrators are obsolete and they should bid goodbye to their artistic pursuits? Not yet. There is still some time before this idea of doing away with illustrators becomes a reality. Reason: Limitations.

How do these models work?

Unlike the earlier image generating algorithms, these applications use Neural networks which churn images crunching huge sets of data relating to categorising text, and images and identifying the relation. The neural networks identify the pattern from the data fed, as to how an object should be manifested in a physical space. The accuracy of the images generated depends hugely on how much noise it can cut off from the data. Both DALL E2 and Imagen depend on diffusion models, which have proven to be effective to produce near-perfect images, semantic in their creation, wholly depending on textual inputs. So far so good. Considering the fact that we have been only able to have access to the images generated and not the applications, they need to be taken with an element of caution. As Dr. Hossein Malekmohamadi, the Senior Lecturer in Game Programming at De Montfort University, Leicester suspects, it is possible that the companies have released only the best of the pictures for public consumption.

AI models are only as good as the data they process

The models are trained with huge datasets like LAION-400M, an open data set filtered with OpenAI’s CLIP, which scraps data from locations including unmoderated sites, a reason why the developers claim these algorithms are a bit off the intended purpose. Given the inherent bias the data carries within, the likely chance of it being exploited is immense. Precisely, because of this reason, as stated by Google, Imagen’s access is restricted to developers. But it doesn’t spell an end to the prospect of creating images out of mere text prompts. The biggies of the tech industry are taking prompt steps towards overcoming these hurdles. While OpenAI is planning to strictly implement a safety system by onboarding up to 1000 people every week, who should follow content moderation policies to access their application, Google intends to work on “vocabulary of potential harms”. Besides, the artwork is always enriched by details, which DALL E-2 seems to fall short on. According to Mathematician Jeremy Kahn, the algorithm doesn’t work for adding details like lighting or shadow, merging borders, or understanding binding attributes. This should sound like music to the designers bothered over AI-induced job insecurities!!

Final thoughts:

While the tech companies scratch their grey cells to find all viable means to overcome the challenges, it is utterly important to question if the AI-generated artwork be categorised as creative work at all. Creativity is very much a human predisposition and defines what it means to be human.  Is it possible for an algorithm to imagine a spiral staircase as whales’ teeth? Perhaps not. Not until and even decades after the bias issues are resolved. If evolution is to be believed, then the way AI is integrating with human life has to be accepted. Therefore, it would be fair to say, AI art generators should be considered a source of inspiration and not an obstacle.

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