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Reading between the lines about Microsoft ‘pausing optional updates’

Yesterday, a post on the official Windows Release Information site said that Microsoft will, at least temporarily and starting in May, stop sending out the pesky “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patches we’ve come to expect. 

Those “optional” second-monthly patches are usually laden with many dozens of fixes for miscellaneous, minor bugs in Windows. For example, the second-monthly cumulative update for Win10 version 1903 released yesterday lists 31 different fixes, most of which only matter in very specific cases.

For example:

  • Addresses an issue that fails to return search results in the Start menu Search box for users that have no local profile.
  • Addresses an issue that prevents applications from closing. 

…and many more of that ilk.

Starting with Win10 1903, those “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patches aren’t automatically applied to your PC. They aren’t installed when you click Check for updates, either – a horrendous relic of a bygone era. In order to install the patches these days, you have to click on a specific link just for that patch that says Download and install now.

The “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patches are nothing more than a surrogate for a Windows Insider ring devoted to testing non-security patches on a released version of Win10. Microsoft should’ve turned the patches into an Insider ring years ago. But I digress.

Here’s what I don’t get. The official announcement goes like this:

Timing for upcoming Windows optional C and D releases

We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand this is impacting our customers. In response to these challenges we are prioritizing our focus on security updates. Starting in May 2020, we are pausing all optional non-security releases (C and D updates) for all supported versions of Windows client and server products (Windows 10, version 1909 down through Windows Server 2008 SP2).

There is no change to the monthly security updates (B release – Update Tuesday); these will continue as planned to ensure business continuity and to keep our customers protected and productive.

That’s the whole announcement.

I see what it’s trying to do – stop releasing “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patches – and that’s a laudable goal. That means fewer people will click and install a beta test version of Win10 without realizing what they’ve stepped into. But the specific wording of the announcement still has me scratching my head.

Here’s the ugly truth: Microsoft isn’t going to stop doing non-security patches. It can’t. Windows is so buggy in its current form that important things go bump in the night and need to be fixed. For example, this fix in the February “optional non-security, C/D Week” patch:

  • Updates an issue that prevents the Windows Search box from rendering properly. 

… tackled a problem that was encountered by thousands (millions?) of users. Then there are specific bugs that cry out for fixing, like this one from yesterday:

  • Addresses an issue that fails to return search results in the Start menu Search box for users that have no local profile. 

Win10 bugs aren’t going away any time soon, and Microsoft would be foolish to ignore them completely.

With that in mind, here’s what I think Microsoft is trying to say:

We won’t be sending out any more bundles of “optional, non-security, C/D Week” patches after April. (Hey, can we get an Insider Ring, folks?)

Patch Tuesday patches continue. Starting in June, the Patch Tuesday patches will include as few non-security patches as possible.

Of course, the point of this exercise is to improve the stability of Windows patches. I’m skeptical – after all, the non-security patches inevitably slipped into Patch Tuesday won’t be tested any more than the security patches. But there is hope. Perhaps by increasing the number of “Won’t Fix” bugs, the resulting patches will be more stable.


And there’s one huge, looming question: How does Win10 version 2004 fit into all of this? Is Microsoft saying that the latest version of Windows will ship so bug-free that it doesn’t need loads of non-security patches?

One can always hope.

We’ll be following intently on

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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16 Ways Book Lovers Can Satisfy Their Reading Addiction – Review Geek

Stacks of books, surrounding two that are open a table at a library.
Valeriy Karpeev/Shutterstock

There are more books than you could possibly read in your entire lifetime, so finding titles you’re likely to enjoy isn’t always easy. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available that can help you discover your new favorite author.

Libraries, Thrift Shops, and Book Clubs

A young woman in a library holding a book and looking at her laptop.
Solis Images/Shutterstock

Go to the library! Yes, they’re still around, and they’re filled with thousands of books you can check out for free. Many libraries also have movies, music, and video games, as well.

Some libraries are partnered with Overdrive (iOS, Android), an app that allows you to check out e- and audiobooks. This means you don’t even have to leave your house to check out a new book—you just need a library card and the app.

Of course, after the library, the best place to find physical books is at a bookstore. If you’re looking for discounts, thrift shops and some local bookstores sell used books. They might have a few scuff marks, but that won’t prevent you from reading them.

Another great way to find new books is to join a book club. You should be able to find one at your local library or bookstore. The club members decide on a new book to read (usually each month or every two weeks), and then all the members meet to discuss it.

When you’re in a book club, you’re constantly reading new things and thinking about what you’re reading. It also introduces you to genres you wouldn’t normally choose on your own.

Buy an E-reader

A pair of glasses resting on a Kindle e-reader.

E-readers might not have that awesome new book smell, or the fun of tangible page turns, but they do save a lot of trees. However, the best reason to get an e-reader is the large library of books you can download.

You can store thousands of titles on a device smaller than most books. You can also download and read files in many formats on an e-reader. If you have PDFs or textbooks to read, you can load them onto your e-reader and take them with you wherever you go.

Here are some of our favorite e-readers:

  • Kindle: The classic device from Amazon only has four gigabytes of storage, but that still holds thousands of books. It has a 167-PPI, glare-free touch display, and a backlight so you can comfortably read at night. It downloads books from the Kindle Store via Wi-Fi, or a computer via USB cable. It also plays audiobooks via Bluetooth. Like all Kindles, its battery can last for weeks, even with daily use.
  • Kindle Paperwhite: The Paperwhite is the upgraded version of the original Kindle. It has a 300-PPI screen, an IPX8 waterproof rating, and multiple storage size options. There’s also a cellular data version that gives you a free connection anywhere you can get service (really, it’s free—Amazon covers the cost of the cell coverage). If you have the cash, the Kindle Oasis is an even better upgrade that gives you page buttons, adjustable warm lighting, and a slightly bigger screen.
  • Kobo Clara HD Six-Inch Carta: If you want to avoid the Kindle ecosystem, there are other options, like the Carta. This e-reader has eight gigabytes of storage—more than enough for thousands of e-books. It has a touch display with a backlight. The Carta displays Kindle format e-books if you convert them in Calibre. It uses the Overdrive app or a computer to load other e-book formats natively.


An Amazon box sitting on a hardwood floor.

It’s never been easier to acquire new books. There are so many online markets for new and used books, it’s almost impossible not to find the book you want online.

Here are some of our favorite sites:

  • Amazon: The tech giant we know today started as one of the first online bookstores. It remains the leading marketplace for ordering books and e-readers. Many writers skip print versions entirely and self-publish their books straight to the Kindle Store.
  • ThriftBooks: This is our favorite site to buy books. It has a huge library of used titles for insanely cheap (everything we’ve ordered has been under $4). Usually, if you order more than $10 to $15 worth of books, you get free shipping. The only caveat is it can sometimes take a couple of weeks to get your stuff.
  • Abe Books: Another great online site with tons of used books. This site also has a lot of first editions and rare books. If you have the cash, they even have some incredibly expensive giant maps and manuscripts from centuries ago.
  • Book Finder: This website indexes books that are for sale all over the internet. You can search by author, title, and ISBN. Then, you can search by individual entry across many sites. It’s useful when you’re having trouble finding a particular title or if you just want to find the cheapest option.
  • Project Gutenberg: This online library of 60,000+ e-books are all in the public domain, so they’re free to distribute and download. Most of these are classics and old books that are difficult to find in hard copy.


A pair of headphones around three books.
Roman Samsonov/Shutterstock

If you’d like to read more, but just don’t have the time, audiobooks are a great option. They allow you to listen to books while you’re driving, doing the yard work, cleaning the house, or any other fun adult chore. The narrators also add their personal flair, which, when done right, can add a lot to the story.

Here are our favorite services for audiobooks:

  • Audible: The largest seller and producer of audiobooks, this Amazon company is also integrated into the Kindle environment. This means it’s incredibly easy to download titles to your e-reader, or you can use the Audible app (iOS, Android).
  • This popular audiobook hub has thousands of books and podcasts available for download. You subscribe for a monthly fee, and then you can check out two books every month. There are also special offers if you want to purchase more.
  • Overdrive: You can check out thousands of audiobooks for free from your local library or school with this app. It also includes two other apps that have the same e-book collection. The Libby app has a more modern design, while the Sora app is specifically for schools and children.

Online Communities and Blogs

A bunch of hands in a circle holding phones.
View Apart/Shutterstock

If you want to discover new books and authors, you only get so much from the title, cover, and brief description. Fortunately, there are many online communities that rate, review, and discuss all forms of literature.

These sites can give you a better idea of what a book is about, and help you find new authors in your favorite genres:

  • Goodreads: This site has over 90 million members, making it the largest book community on the web. When you create an account, you can keep track of the books you’ve read, rate them, and publish reviews. You can also follow other users, and see what they’re reading and what they’ve reviewed. It’s the perfect place to connect with other readers and get recommendations.
  • Bookish: Bookish is an editorial site filled with literary articles and book reviews. It’s also a fantastic resource if you want to start a book club because it provides recommendations, discussion guides, games, challenges, and more.
  • Amazon Book Review: This popular book blog has a very active group of reviewers. It mainly sticks to books available on Amazon (which is almost every book published), but there’s also a regular podcast and newsletter.
  • Reddit: There are tons of book-related subreddits with incredibly active communities. r/books is the most popular, and it’s full of general book discussions and recommendations. r/bookclub is, essentially, an online book club. Members regularly pick new books to read and discuss. It has 70k subscribers, so it’s a great way to find new books and get involved in the community. r/booksuggestions and r/suggestmeabook are also fairly active. If you share the kind of books and genres you like, other members with similar taste will make suggestions and help you find new books.

Book lovers should never run out of options with so many great resources to find new books. Whether you peruse the stacks at your library or join a virtual book club, there will always be more books to read!

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What Is Social Reading? The 5 Best Social Reading Apps

Reading, by definition, is a solo activity and demands your complete concentration as well as a quiet space. The most special books have the power to pull you away from the world around you.

But the actual act of reading only represents half of the whole experience. The other part is a lot more social, and kicks in afterward.

What Is Social Reading?

Most of us, when we’ve finished a book, tend to share what we learned. We dive deep into hours-long conversations with someone who has also read the book. We pick our favorite quotes and post them on social media.

This concept, and its associated behavior, are called social reading. There are several benefits to being more social about what you read.

Social reading enables a community where you can connect with fellow readers, engage in profound discussions, share what you’re reading at the moment, discover excerpts you like, and gather insights on sections you’re stuck on.

Further, an active community inspires you to be more consistent with your reading habits. You can publicly set goals, participate in challenges, and seek recommendations. Social reading isn’t a new term, either. For years, it has existed in various forms, such as book clubs.

To get your started, here are the best social reading apps.

1. Bookself

Bookself is an online community of readers and writers where every book has its own dedicated forum. Anyone can visit the page and share their thoughts with the rest of its followers.

You have the option to reach out to other commentators by sending them a private message. Bookself also recommends users and books based on your reading history and the genres you’ve selected.

In addition, you can browse active discussions and which books are trending on Bookself. Bookself can keep tabs on your books, as well. It lets you add books you found interesting to your wishlist and tell your followers what you’re currently reading.

What’s more, Bookself offers you the ability to establish your reading goals. Inside the app, you’ll even find both text and audio previews of a handful of books. Bookself embeds a purchase link if you decide to buy one.

Download: Bookself for Android | iOS (Free)

2. Bookship

Bookship is for building private virtual reading groups. All you need to do is pick a new book and invite your friends to join you on Bookship.

The app allows everyone to chat and talk about their progress through a handful of custom tools. There are built-in options for sharing your progress and requesting an update from all members.

You can share regular images of pages and excerpts, but Bookship also supports OCR. That means instead of pictures, you have the ability to directly send the page’s content.

What’s more, Bookship houses free ebooks of a range of classics. The app lets you read them right inside the app and highlight text to easily forward to the reading group.

Bookself helps you decide which book to read next by sorting a wide collection based on their popularity, critical reviews, topics, and release dates.

Download: Bookship for Android | iOS (Free)

3. Glose

Glose is a social network for readers. It provides a personal feed where you can publish posts and view updates from the people in your friend list. The app hosts all the standard features you’d expect from such a social network.

But the reading feature is what truly sets Glose apart. Unlike the rest, Glose lets you read books on its app itself. You have the option to either upload your own ebooks or choose from the service’s catalog, which contains both paid and free titles.

Each book on Glose has a special page. In the Activity tab, users can check comments and passages others have highlighted. The reading interface also has a bunch of handy social features.

Glose shows the number of activities (like notes or reactions) associated with any line or paragraph. To leave your own, you just need to select a piece of text and tap the action you’d like to perform from the popup menu.

If you like the idea of Glose, you can bookmark words you’d like to share later using ebook reader apps that have great annotation features.

Download: Glose for Android | iOS (Free)

4. Goodreads

Goodreads is the most sophisticated social reading platform. It’s home to millions of readers and an endless database of books, reviews, and annotations.

When you first sign up for Goodreads, it asks you to create your virtual bookself. You can add the books you’ve read, titles you’re reading at the moment, and those you wish to read in the future. Based on this data, Goodreads recommends you new books and discussions to join.

Plus, the site has constantly updating challenges, trivia, and quizzes you can take. Being a social network, Goodreads allows you to chat with readers and follow their activity.

Since Goodreads is so popular, authors have an active presence on it as well. The site often runs sessions like Ask The Author, where anyone can pick their favorite author’s brains.

Due to its many features, the Goodreads app can feel a little overwhelming at first. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s a book lover’s paradise.

Download: Goodreads for Android | iOS (Free)

5. Zuster

Zuster is a social reading app for web articles instead of books. It has a straightforward design that allows you to easily share and discuss stories with your friends. Aside from the mobile apps, you can add articles and comments on Zuster on your computer through its browser extension.

Zuster sports a quick-read option, which uses machine learning to extract and show you the most important bits from a post. Through the Activity tab, you have the ability to check what all your friends have been up to on Zuster.

At the time of writing, Zuster did not have an iOS app available, but the developer says it should be ready soon.

Download: Zuster for Android | Chrome (Free)

Read More Books This Year

These apps prove that reading books can be both an isolated and social hobby. You can use them to talk to like-minded people, share your thoughts on a book you’ve read, and make the activity a lot more productive.

However, it can be difficult to keep up with new book releases and discussions. Follow our tips on how to read more

How to Read 50+ Books This Year

How to Read 50+ Books This Year

If you’re like the average American, you’re not reading enough. Reading more books can make you smarter and more successful. Let us show you how to read one book per week.
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if you can’t seem to find the time to read everything you want.

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How to Build an Awesome Summer Reading List – LifeSavvy

Woman relaxes in a hammock reading a book from her summer reading list
Ahmet Misirlingul/Shutterstock

A book, a beach chair, and a beautiful day. Is there any better place to read than outside in the sun? But what to read? Let’s look at putting together a great summer reading list.

I read, a lot; I read almost 90 books last year, so I’ve gotten pretty good at always having something ready to go next, but it can be a struggle. You get so invested in the book or series that you’re reading that you really don’t think about what you’re going to do with your evenings when you turn that final page. Here’s how I like to find books to read.

Look for New Releases by Authors You Love

Writing a book can take a long time (just ask George R.R. Martin), and the publishing process is far from speedy. It often takes three or four years for an author to write and release a new book after their last one was published. It’s normal for that book you were obsessing over in 2015 to have slipped your mind.

But, while you’ve gone about your life, that author has been typing away at their keyboard. The editors have done their editing, and the printers their printing. There might just be a new book on the shelves this summer.

ggk author page
It takes Guy Gavriel Kay a few years to put together a new book.

If there’s a book or author you loved from a few years ago, hop on Google and see if they’ve released anything new recently. You might be surprised by what escaped your notice if you don’t follow book news. I know people who were shocked to find one of their favorite authors had released an entire trilogy that they’d missed.

If you’re struggling to think of an author to search for, look through your bookshelves (or your Kindle) for inspiration. I’m sure something will jump out at you.

Revisit an Old Favorite

And while we’re talking about looking through bookshelves, another great way to find a book to read is to revisit one you loved before. Even if you remember every plot beat, lots of books reward rereading. The second time through you pick up on all the subtle foreshadowing, hints, and clues that are impossible to spot when you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Rereading books is one of my greatest pleasures. Some characters are like old friends at this stage. When I’m feeling down or homesick or lonely, I often grab a Terry Pratchett novel and immerse myself in that for a few days. Problem solved!

book read twice
I’ve actually read Guards! Guards! At least four times…

If you can’t be bothered going to the effort of learning a whole new set of characters (or world, or magic system, or mythology) grabbing a book you’ve read before is the surest bet. Trust me; you’ll almost always love the book even more the second time through.

Check the Critics List on Sites You Like

There are a couple of critics and authors whose opinion seems to track close enough to mine. We won’t agree on everything, but our tastes are similar enough that if they rave about a book, I’ll almost certainly love it, so when they recommend a book, I take note. Robin Hobb or Patrick Rothfuss giving a cover blurb is a sure way to get me onboard.

It doesn’t even have to be a specific person. If there’s a website you like that touches on pop culture, and they publish a roundup of books they’ve enjoyed or are coming out soon, then check it out. If you like the stuff they write, there’s a good chance you’ll like the things they read. I always keep an eye on The Verge posts about books.

verge book reveiw

As always, Google is your friend with these things. If you’re not sure whether a site has published a list of recommendations, just search for the site name and a related term like “best books,” “book list,” or “book picks.”

Check the Bestsellers List

Books still can become huge cultural talking points. Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, the 50 Shades series, anything by Dan Brown, and lots of other books sit on the top of bestseller lists for months racking up fans as the buzz builds.

While there might only be one or two things on the New York Times list at a time that interest you, it’s still worth looking at it occasionally to see if anything is sitting at the top, gaining fans. It might be your new favorite book.

Ask Someone in a Bookstore (Or a Librarian)

Woman browsing through the books at an independent bookstore
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Nobody works in a bookstore for the cold, hard cash and a chance at fame. They do it because they adore books and talking about books (plus it’s professionally acceptable when they’re not serving customers or stocking shelves, to read). If you pop into your local independent bookstore and ask the staff for a few recommendations, I can guarantee you’ll be walking out of there with a heavy bag. Just tell them the kind of things you like and let them do the rest.

Also, bookshop employees aren’t the only people who adore books. Librarians are a great source of suggestions too. You can even walk out of their building, bag bulging with books without spending a penny.

Ask a Friend

It’s not just people who work with books that have strong opinions on what you should read next; your friends probably do too. If you’ve got a mate who loves to read—especially one who’s given you a good recommendation in the past—hit them up and ask what book got them excited recently. Boom! A new book on your reading list.

Pick a Theme

One of the most fun ways to find new books to read is to pick a theme. Say, you’re going on vacation to New Orleans at the end of the summer. Why not read a couple of books (maybe, one fiction and one non-fiction?) set in or about the city.

It doesn’t even have to be somewhere you’re visiting. You can pick any theme that takes your fancy. A place that interests you, a particular historical event or period, books written only by a certain kind of author, or just books published in a particular year. What’s great, though, is that by adding a little bit of structure, it’s simple to find your next book. You can’t have New Orleans as your theme and not read A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

Books > Netflix. Don’t @ me. Just read some this summer. You can even do it outside.

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How to Set Up Google Chrome for Offline Reading of Books

You don’t need to rely on the internet to catch up on your e-reading, because there are many ways to take content offline these days.

Let’s see how you can save your reading material for offline use from your browser. We’ll use Chrome as an example here, but these solutions work just as well for any other browser unless they involve a Chrome extension of course.

1. Kindle Cloud Reader

Enable offline mode prompt in Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon has made it easy to access Kindle ebooks from a variety of devices and operating systems. But you don’t really need a desktop app to read your Kindle ebooks.

You can use Kindle for Chrome by navigating to and logging into your Amazon account. What you see next is the Kindle Cloud Reader, but it appears hidden by a prompt that lets you save books to read when you’re offline.

If you want to download any of your ebooks for offline reading on Chrome, click on the Enable Offline button. (Otherwise, click on the Not Now button.) If Chrome prompts you for permission to save data to your disk, go ahead and grant it.

The Kindle for Chrome reader comes with a straightforward interface where you can browse your entire Kindle collection. Sample chapters aren’t included in the cloud reader library.

If you right-click on any ebook, you’ll see two options: Open Book and Download & Pin Book. Click on the second one to make that ebook available offline. The option appears grayed out if you haven’t enabled the offline reading feature.

Visit: Kindle Cloud Reader (Free)

Save ebook offline in Kindle Cloud Reader

2. Pocket

If you use the popular read-it-later service Pocket, you can install one of its desktop or mobile apps to take your reading list offline. While you might see references to Pocket’s Chrome app online, the app—and all other Chrome apps—are now obsolete.

With the desktop (and mobile) apps, you don’t have to worry about saving content for offline use. They automatically make all content in your account accessible without an internet connection.

Keep in mind that the Pocket apps might take a while to sync with your account. If you go offline before the sync, the latest content might not be available through the apps. It’s a good idea to ensure that your Pocket list is up to date before disconnecting from the internet.

Along with the desktop app, you might want to install the Pocket Chrome extension or the bookmarklet to save webpages to your account in a single click.

Install: Pocket (Free, premium account available)

3. EpubPress

EpubPress toolbar panel in Chrome

This one’s only for Chrome users. The EpubPress extension turns articles from your favorite websites and blogs into EPUBs.

Once you install EpubPress and click on its toolbar button, it displays a list of the articles available in the active tabs. Select the articles you’d like to add to your custom ebook and click on the Download button.

EpubPress then works its magic in the background, eliminating ads and banners, and drops the final product onto your desktop. The result is a clean, well-formatted EPUB ebook that you can read on any of your devices.

Install: EpubPress (Free)

4. Google Play Books

download Google Play Books to your desktop

Visit Google Play Books to access and build your personal ebook library, which is also known as the My Books section. Books that you have downloaded from the Play Store appear here as thumbnails. You can also upload books to this section from your computer using the Upload files toolbar button.

To read Google Play Books offline, first ensure that you’re connected to the internet, and access your ebook library.

There, right-click on the thumbnail of the ebook you want to save, and select the Download EPUB or Download PDF menu item as required. (For ebooks you’ve uploaded yourself, you’ll see the Download option only for the same format in which you added the book.)

The catch here is that the downloaded file actually appears in the ACSM format since it’s protected by DRM. You can’t open it as a regular EPUB or PDF, but you can still read it once you install Adobe Digital Editions or ADE on your desktop. Chromebook users, if your device supports the installation of Android apps, you can get a copy of ADE for Android.

Visit: Google Play Books (Free)

5. Print Friendly & PDF

Using PrintFriendly & PDF in Chrome

Does your RSS feed or online reading list appear daunting to get through? Break it down into digestible chunks by converting select articles into PDFs with PrintFriendly & PDF. There’s not much to it. After you install the Chrome extension, navigate to a webpage or an article that you want to save as a PDF and click on the extension’s toolbar button.

In the dialog box that opens up, you get an optimized version of the webpage. Feel free to tweak it further—you can scale or remove images, scale the text, and delete various sections of the page. (The links in the PDF stay clickable!)

Once you’re satisfied with the changes, click on the PDF button in the top toolbar and then on the Download Your PDF button that appears.

Want to print or email the webpage instead of exporting it as a PDF? You have those options too—look for them in the toolbar.

Also, instead of installing the Chrome extension, you can use PrintFriendly & PDF as a bookmarklet. This is especially handy if you use a browser that the extension doesn’t support.

Install: Print Friendly & PDF (Free)

No Signal for Reading? No Problem

Do you hoard articles to read, but never get around to reading them? Blame your active internet connection—it ensures that there’s always something eye-catching right around the corner. If you really want to make inroads into your reading list, read offline!

Since we’re on the topic of reading online material without the internet, check out how to save a complete webpage for offline reading. You can also download an entire website for reading offline

How to Download an Entire Website for Offline Reading

How to Download an Entire Website for Offline Reading

Here’s how you can download entire websites for offline reading so you have access even when you don’t have Wi-Fi or 4G.
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. If you use Apple devices, consider using Safari’s Reading List for reading content offline

Use Safari’s Reading List for Offline Reading on Your Mac & iPhone

Use Safari’s Reading List for Offline Reading on Your Mac & iPhone

Want to share articles between your iPhone and Mac? Use Safari’s Reading List.
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Explore more about: eReader, Google Chrome, Offline Browsing, Reading.

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