The MHA Blog
Archive of the Category 'Articles'
Virtual Private Network (VPN): Benefits & Use Cases for Protection & Privacy
In our modern world, so much of our lives revolve around the internet. It’s what we use for work, pleasure, and everything in between. With countless hours spent on the world wide web, the line between public and private is often blurred.
Though the internet is excellent, putting yourself online has its drawbacks. Sites like Facebook getting sued for selling users’ data is no laughing matter. So how can we assure ourselves that our virtual information is safe?
If you’re searching for more secure surfing options, a VPN is the perfect answer. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and its benefits are numerous. If you’re still on the fence, here are some opportunities a VPN can offer.
Data Privacy Within Your House
Is surfing the web potentially dangerous, even on your private Wi-Fi? While accessing your private connection, you’re still using your ISP: internet service provider. Whether your provider is Comcast, Verizon, etc., your specific ISP has complete access to your browsing history and data. Even using an incognito mode doesn’t necessarily keep your service provider out of the loop.
A VPN is essential because it obscures your IP address. This IP address, which identifies your computer on the internet, cannot be located in this mode. Without an identifiable address, ISPs can’t find your data or locate your laptop online.
Using Public Wi-Fi
If you’re concerned about a data breach, you’re probably skeptical about public Wi-Fi. While using Wi-Fi is generally safe, utilizing a shared network at a café can lead to vulnerability.
Protection is one significant benefit of a VPN while using the public internet. It allows for secured internet access without compromising browser history and personal data. A VPN is a definite must-have for workdays spent in diners and coffee shops.
Access To International Content
It’s relatively common to be scrolling through Netflix and suddenly realize your favorite show is no longer available. Though it’s frustrating, these shows are often accessible in other parts of the world.
How does a VPN aid in international viewing? The VPN’s primary capability is disguising your location. An undisclosed geotag allows you to browse from anywhere in the world while keeping your info safe. Since you’re surfing the web undetected, the streaming possibilities are utterly endless.
Downloading a VPN is legal in the U.S., so try incorporating one to see what TV and movie options are available.
Data & Government
Even in the U.S., lines are often fuzzy between public vs. private data. Data posted on Instagram or Facebook can quickly get scooped up by profiteers, consensually or not. Unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the only influential figure who deceptively sells our information.
Lawsuits regarding brands selling information to government agencies are happening all around us. VPNs are an added defense for the content you put online privately. No one wants to feel like online shopping could lead to an involvement with the NSA. A VPN is an excellent download for those concerned about government surveillance in this day and age.
No Bandwidth Throttling
Bandwidth throttling is just a fancy way of saying your internet is slowing down. Your ISP can decrease your internet speed based on which sites you’re using. This is just another instance of your service provider getting in the way of your personal computer use.
Suppose you’re experiencing a lag on specific sites but aren’t sure why, try using a VPN. When your data is encrypted, you can safely surf the web unmonitored. A VPN assures all sites you access are free of surveillance and its additional streaming problems.
A demand for privacy leads many internet users to download a VPN. It’s a simple fix to a plethora of problems and ensures a safer surfing experience. Whether your intentions are recreational or professional, a VPN is a powerful tool to improve your computer experience. Access to more TV shows with the relief of extra security is too good of a deal to dismiss.
Apple M1 Chip Devices: Game Changer Worth Upgrading For or Just Hype?
Announced back in November, Apple introduced a big device that comes in a tiny package. This technology is called the M1 chip: the most powerful chip Apple has ever produced. It’s specifically designed to fit into the smallest Apple products without sacrificing space or memory. With this chip, Mac implements a game-changing technology that’ll change your computer experience.
Better graphics and longer battery life are just a few ways Apple is revolutionizing technology. But is all of this commotion worth the hype? Let’s take a look at Apple’s newest products and discover the potential benefits of this upgrade.
What is the M1?
There is more to this tiny chip than meets the eye. First off, it marks a transition away from the Intel chips Apple products have used for almost 20 years. It is the first Apple-designed chip to specifically work for Mac products.
Known as a System on a Chip, or an SoC, the M1 combines different technologies into one piece of equipment. Components like RAM (the computer’s memory), image signal processors, and encoding/decoding engines all exist now on a single, minuscule chip.
The combination of these technologies increases the speed and efficiency of the computer’s operation. Instead of accessing data from different memory pools, there is now only one pool to look through. By limiting the copying of data between systems, the smoother your computer will run.
What’s Special About M1?
Since 2006, Apple has had the same core designs for all of its products. Now, some of your favorite products from Mac hold this powerhouse of a chip. It includes an 8-core CPU with four high-efficiency cores. This sounds like a lot of advanced technical jargon, so let me break it down for you. What this means is that programs requiring a lot of power can operate quickly. And for activities that need less power, like surfing the web, fewer cores are activated for better battery life preservation.
These intelligent cores understand when you’re doing demanding tasks that need more power. Engaging all cores at once, or limiting their power, is what sets this operating system apart.
Big Sur Mac
Most of us operating on Apple products use the most recent software, Big Sur. The M1 Chip works in tandem with this upgrade for faster operation.
Speediness is something the M1 prioritizes. Waking up your computer from its routine slumber might feel fast enough, but M1 eliminates all of the lag time. A product with this new chip has an even better time scrolling the internet. Safari, a web browser known for its quickness, is said to operate 2x faster.
There are even more possibilities with the App Store than with the previous software. Apps specifically made for the iPhone and iPad now work seamlessly on computers with M1. The power of M1’s amplified graphics also enhances apps specific to design and animation. Apps like Metal or Photoshop look visually advanced compared to the past operating systems.
M1 Security Features
Security is a must in this day and age. With breaches left and right, computer users want to know that their information is safe.
The M1 has a unique safety feature that is unlike other software. A T-2 chip is the usual culprit for safety measures and is added to the CPU. This information is already inside the M1, allowing for hasty reactions to malware and breaches.
M1 has a built-in tool called Secure Enclave that manages Touch ID amongst other security measures. This new feature is separated from the computer’s main processor, allowing for an additional protection layer.
Security Enclave also has a separate processor for the security system. This might not seem like much, but it’s a key factor in preventing informational compromises. Since the processor doesn’t share its data with other programs, it’s way safer from attacks.
Getting excited about a chip seems silly, but the M1 isn’t something to write off. Its power is unprecedented, with better battery life and less lag time. As the first fundamental change in Apple hardware since the early 2000s, M1 is a particular upgrade worthy of its hype.
Six Must-Have Productivity/Utility Apps For Macs
We all want to be more productive in our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s organizing time for our hobbies or making our work schedule manageable, time efficiency is imperative. Fortunately, we’re not alone in our organizational journey. When it comes to products and apps for Mac, there are a few helpful downloads to maximize productivity. Here are the must-have apps for Macs that’ll help revamp your efficiency.
An app with unbelievable intelligence, Alfred compiles information from your searches to understand your behavior.
Alfred has a search function that uses keywords for ultimate proficiency. The app learns how you use your computer and sorts your searches based on popularity. You can also input hotkeys and keywords to make your searches even quicker.
Alfred includes an extensive search history feature. You’ll be able to find past websites without the hassle of remembering the URLs. Saving websites is also quick and easy; you can create abbreviations or nicknames for websites to find them faster.
Sometimes the most challenging part about being efficient is remembering where all of your files are. Alfred aids in organizing and simplifying your computer’s data, letting you focus on what’s important. Learn more about Alfred here: https://www.alfredapp.com
Working on a computer is fantastic until all those pesky tabs pile up. Magnet is a simple-fix app for this cumbersome problem.
If you’re like me, you have endless windows and tabs open on your screen. Without the willingness to delete old windows, websites build up unbearably. With Magnet, you are only allowed four windows on the screen at a time. The windows can be arranged in a few different ways and lock into the corners of the desktop. This helps focus your attention while keeping your screen free of unnecessary clutter.
If only having four websites open is an issue, Magnet includes six different windows. Magnet allows you to use a window for work-related websites while another can be recreational.
Creating shortcuts is also a key part of Magnet, helping users flip through their displays swiftly. Keeping four windows per display makes for less searching and a less cluttered computer.
Check out more about magnet here: https://magnet.crowdcafe.com
A great accompaniment to Magnet is HazeOver: a simple but effective tool for window mismanagement.
HazeOver is the premier website for window dimming. It highlights the window you want to focus on and shrowds your other windows in a darker shadow. Sometimes it’s the over-stimulation of various programs that makes working harder. With HazeOver’s differing brightness, you’ll have an easier time focusing on one project at a time.
Look at more possibilities HazeOver can do here: https://hazeover.com/
Though one of the oldest apps on the list, OneNote is consistently the most clever and accessible app for notetaking.
Emulating a paper notebook, this app is great for organizing ideas and thoughts by subject. Tabs are located on the left side of the application for labeling and arranging each section.
Even the note itself tries to mimic a physical piece of paper. You can click anywhere on the page to start writing for a more freeform writing experience. Drawing, doodling, and more are obtainable with this clever feature.
OneNote is the closest you can get to a real-life notebook. With many organizational tools included in the interface, it’s worth a download. Find out more about the app here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-onenote/id410395246
This app’s purpose is to restructure your understanding of notetaking. Though not the most intuitive, Obsidian is an organizational powerhouse because of a few key ingredients.
It’s aesthetically similar to Mac’s Notes app, but with a sleeker, black outline to the page. A big difference is that you can hyperlink past notes to words and phrases of your current note. Using Obsidian allows connecting more information for a continuous workflow. You can also set keyboard shortcuts to access files with a simple key push quickly.
Though a free app, many quality features of Obsidian cost an additional price. You can check out more about this revolutionary app here: https://obsidian.md
Remembering all your passwords is no easy feat. This app is stellar when it comes to saving and creating strong passwords.
The best feature is its single-click function. Your passwords can autofill with one click for each website and app, requiring no memory overexertion. There’s even an option to produce random, strong logins. The built-in password generator quickly comes up with original passwords for you. Now there’s no excuse to use the same password over and over again.
1Password is trusted by businesses around the globe to secure their valuable information. It’s great for families, too, by making it easy to share logins, credit card info, and more. Keep your valuables all in one place with this accessible app.
Find out more about all its innovative functions: https://1password.com
Everyone needs a little help reaching their productivity potential. There are so many apps available now to focus our attention on; it’s hard to know which ones to choose. These six productivity and utility apps are some of the best on the market, each serving its function exceptionally. Download one of these programs and see your productivity inevitably increase.
Is Reliable High-Speed Internet the Key to Having Happy Renters?
You won’t be able to find an apartment without internet access these days. Especially now, reliable internet is more necessary than ever. Ensuring that access is fast and dependable is something imperative for a Wi-Fi connection. But what can property owners do to improve this?
For many renters, purchasing a router is an individual act: an essential part of furnishing the home. With many people working remotely, landlords and homeowners are starting to do more to provide quality internet. So I got to ask, is giving reliable internet to renters essential for happy and long-lasting residents?
The answer, simply, is yes. In a recent study, 87 percent of people said technology played a huge role when it comes to apartment hunting. The majority also said that asking about communication services was crucial before signing a lease. In an internet-dominated world, there’s no surprise with these statistics. The question now becomes, what can property owners do to benefit all communication services?
Improving Wi-Fi and General Connection
With an established need for internet access, owners can provide their renters with better services in one paramount way.
Though it is a challenge for older buildings, replacing copper wire with fiber optic cable is a necessary investment. Fiber optic doesn’t rust as fast as copper, and fiber’s data transfer is quicker and extends farther. This type of infrastructure change is more dependable for avid internet users.
If the building is new construction, the architect probably had fiber cables in mind and installed microducts. If not, property owners will need to figure out the best way to filter the cables from the basement to the apartments. A few methods include blowing (for taller, wider apartments), pulling (less costly), or pushing (for shorter distances). The length and width of the building will determine the ideal method for fiber cable installation.
What Will Property Owners Expect From High-Speed Internet
Once the copper cables are replaced with fiber ones, property owners will notice positive results. A larger tenant pool is expected for a building equipped with better internet services. Tenants are also more likely to stick around longer. With many needing the internet for work as well as a job-searching tool, tenants have an easier route for income and paying rent on time. This is perfect for property owners struggling with short-term residents.
High-speed internet doesn’t only help the residents, but visitors, contractors, and more. Let’s say you hire an electrician, and they need to make a work call, but their service is spotty. Wouldn’t great Wi-Fi be essential to finish the job?
Anyone who enters your apartment and is expecting a connection will benefit from an upgraded building. In a world where the internet is vital, friends and contractors alike will rejoice from fast, reliable Wi-Fi
The Future for Renters
Even after this pandemic, people will continue working from home. One study shows that 70 percent of respondents say their companies have made technology investments for remote working. Even without technological change, bosses and employees know that at-home working can be as efficient as sitting in the office. This means that future renters will be expecting these types of services when apartment hunting.
When March 2020 began, property owners and building managers didn’t know what to expect with the influx of work-from-home residents. This lifestyle change made the need for reliable internet increasingly inescapable. With the future unknown, owners need to invest in advancements for their buildings. Hopefully, no pandemic of this caliber will happen again, but owners still have to be prepared for more renters working remotely.
High-speed internet is no luxury anymore. It is a fundamental need for all renters and does wonders for ensuring their happiness. Though some owners might need to spend more dough to renovate, the benefits are endless. If you’ve been having trouble retaining or attracting renters, upgrading internet access is the best place to start.
6 Best Health & Fitness Apps for 2021
Public gyms and workout centers are opening back up, meaning less home exercise. With more room to do our daily routines, apps and virtual help might appear unnecessary. But, in 2021, there are many fitness apps to discover that will elevate your workout.
Apps for tracking progress, getting muscle definition, and improving your mental state are available right at your fingertips. Try out these health and fitness apps to start your summer off right.
7 Minute Workout
This app is definitely for the person on the go. If you’re in a rush and feel there’s no time to incorporate exercise, 7 Minute Workout’s quick exercises will change your thinking.
Developed by a physiologist at Johnson & Johnson, this app is designed for people of all athletic and physical abilities. The workouts are customizable, with the option to mix and match over 72 exercises. Your formulated workouts also come with time adjustments ranging from 7 to 37 minutes. Each exercise comes with an instructional video, ensuring you’re prepared to tackle every routine.
7 Minute Workout is a great place to start if working out feels too time-consuming. You can download the app in the Apple store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/7-minute-workout/id650762525
An app with a surprisingly huge following, FitOn is mostly known for its charismatic and well-known trainers.
This app is an athlete’s dream with a wide selection of exercise classes, from yoga to HIIT. The instructors are mostly celebrity trainers, which means you’re getting top-tier lessons. The courses are varying degrees of difficulty, and most exercises don’t require equipment. It’s no wonder more than five million people have joined this app; with a huge selection of videos and world-class trainers, it’s hard to go wrong.
Look at their website for more about their trainers and courses: https://fitonapp.com/
Glo is a perfect fit for the avid yoga and meditation participant. Formerly known as YogaGlo, this app has evolved to encompass pilates, mindfulness practices, and more.
Personalizing your workout is what the app does best. You’ll be invited to answer a series of questions as a beginner, to make sure you’re getting your ideal fitness routine. With over 4,000 classes on demand, there are almost infinite courses to choose from. Just like FitOn, Glo has some of the best yoga and fitness instructors, making this app a worthwhile investment.
Try out the app free for 7 days here: https://www.glo.com/
Nike Run Club
Summer is the season for running. It’s great to exercise in the warm sunlight finally, but sometimes running can get monotonous. Nike Run Club acts as your personal cheerleader, documenting your successes and helping you achieve your fitness goals.
For the competitive athlete, Nike Run Club is great for establishing training plans. You’ll be able to assign personal challenges and goals for each run you take. You can choose the distance or time limit of your exercising, with a 5-minute lunch run option for your busiest days. The app also allows you to connect to other runners, creating a social network of motivated exercisers.
Log your distance and accept rewards with Nike’s free workout app. See more details on their website: https://www.nike.com/nrc-app
Staying happy and content is an important factor in our health. When we’re getting our whole body in shape, our mental state sometimes goes unchecked. This app strictly focuses on the mind, with wonderful meditation and mindfulness tactics.
Happify has science-backed activities to lower stress levels and distract the mind. Alongside these games and exercises, there are guided meditations and even weight training. There are helpful solutions for anyone experiencing a range of mental health issues or solely looking for a fun distraction.
Whether you’re dealing with intrusive thoughts or needing a physical outlet, Happify has a solution for everyone. You can see all of the advantages Happify has to offer here: https://www.happify.com
Sleep: arguably the most essential facet of our health. Getting a good night’s sleep, though, is undeniably troublesome. With the sole power of our phone’s microphone, this app is capable of improving our nightly routine.
Sleep Cycle uses an advanced alarm clock to make sure you’re waking up at the right time. This incredible technology logs its information through your breathing. The sounds and movements you make show the app how deeply you’re sleeping. The app then determines when your lightest sleep will be in the morning, allowing for an alarm that eases you into the day.
Sounds crazy, right? Though the idea feels like it’s from a science-fiction novel, the app has succeeded in improving many users’ rest. Sleep Cycle even has an extensive library of sounds and stories, making sure you’re falling asleep fast and easy.
Check out more about Sleep Cycle here: https://www.sleepcycle.com/how-sleep-cycle-works/
As humans, whole-body health can be a tiring endeavor. With so many incredible apps on the market, incorporating a small workout or a breathing exercise is more than effortless. Make your fitness and health a priority this summer by downloading one of these beneficial apps.
5 Things To Know about Amazon Sidewalk
Have you heard of Amazon Sidewalk? Many people haven’t, even if they are utilizing a device that may soon automatically use the service. On June 8, Amazon will automatically enroll devices in the Amazon Sidewalk service.
Here are five things to know about the Amazon Sidewalk service.
1. How does Amazon Sidewalk work?
Basically, Amazon takes a small portion of your internet bandwidth and shares it with neighbors so that everyone’s devices have a stronger connection. According to Amazon, “Amazon Sidewalk creates a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices including select Echo and Ring devices. These Bridge devices share a small portion of your internet bandwidth which is pooled together to provide these services to you and your neighbors. And when more neighbors participate, the network becomes even stronger.”
2. How much of my bandwidth will Amazon Sidewalk use?
Amazon says that the maximum bandwidth of a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80Kbps. That’s pretty small (about 1/40th of the bandwidth used to stream a high definition video). Total monthly data used by Sidewalk is capped at 500MB. That’s about 10 minutes of high definition video.
What are the benefits of using Amazon Sidewalk?
For devices like Ring security cameras and door bells or Echo devices, Sidewalk may help them stay connected and work over longer distances. The service is also free.
What if I am concerned about privacy?
Amazon has published a white paper with technical information that may address your privacy concerns. It is a fairly comprehensive document that you can find here: Amazon Sidewalk Privacy and Security Whitepaper.
Can I disable Amazon Sidewalk on my devices?
Disabling Sidewalk is a pretty easy process. Simply open the Alexa app, go to More and select Settings. Then select Account Settings and choose Amazon Sidewalk. You can then turn off Amazon Sidewalk.
Have more questions about Amazon Sidewalk? Visit the Amazon Sidewalk web page for more information.
Coolest New Tech Products from CES 2021
Speaking as someone who recently updated their ancient phone to the luxurious iPhone 11, I have to say I’m fully impressed by 21st-century innovation. Even during a pandemic, technology hasn’t ceased transforming. From the imminent reality of AI to unbelievable green tech, there’s no limit for these engineers.
At this year’s digital CES, we got a sneak peek at the newest innovations for 2021. For anyone who isn’t familiar, CES stands for Consumer Electronics Show. The show brings manufacturers, businesses, developers, and tech pioneers together to showcase consumer tech and discuss relevant topics.
If you’re like me, you’re not constantly up-to-date in the newest technological trends. CES had hundreds of advanced products, but I’ve compiled a few of the coolest from the 2021 showcase.
Samsung Solar-Power Remote
With the Green New Deal at the forefront of American’s mind, climate change is increasingly more of a household conversation. This means that more companies have started innovating towards a greener planet, which is fantastic. Samsung is no different with their TV remote that’s solar-charged.
No batteries are necessary for this weightless piece of recycled plastic. It charges with both indoor and outdoor light and has a USB port if it needs additional charging. This move proves Samsung is investing in making products that run on green energy.
The product is not available to the public yet, but you can learn more about the remote here: https://www.engadget.com/samsung-solar-cell-remote-control-ces-2021-201053496.html
Nobi Fall-Sensing Lamp
Senior citizens have been one of the most isolated, at-risk demographics during this pandemic. With the sensational lamp “Nobi,” you’ll get a device with state-of-the-art detection technology.
Disguised as an ordinary ceiling fan, this fixture monitors movement and can assess various trouble. Its goal is to create a safer environment for seniors by notifying help when it detects someone has fallen. The fan is loaded with special sensors to accurately tell the difference between regular movement and a nasty fall. Fall-sensing is the type of technology we need in the future: helping older citizens feel safe and protected while in their homes.
Check out more about Nobi here: https://nobi.life/
Kohler Touchless Toilet
I have to admit; I didn’t think there was much we need to change about toilets. But with Kohler’s Touchless Toilet, I’ve come to my senses. An advanced, autonomous toilet is what the future needs and deserves.
The bathroom is full of unwanted bacteria, so taking a less hands-on approach to a toilet is a pragmatic decision. This Touchless Toilet has a “magic handle” that sensors hand movement to flush. It also comes with its own remote, auto opening and closing, LED lighting, a heating option, and more.
My toilet fails in comparison to this sentient, high-tech creation. Though undeniably pricey, this tech might shortly appear in every home’s powder room.
Check out more about Kohler’s Touchless Toilet here: https://www.us.kohler.com/us/browse/bathroom-toilets/_/N-2569Z1z11v4x
Isn’t the future supposed to have flying cars? Well, apparently, a design for one was featured at this year’s CES. General Motors showcased their wildest invention yet: a Cadillac air taxi. The Cadillac eVTOL, resembling a flying machine straight from Wakanda, is battery-powered and ready to take flight.
The Cadillac air taxi is General Motor’s first vehicle with aerial mobility. The battery power can accelerate the taxi to around 56 mph. But, it may take years before you’ll be seeing this vehicle on your local freeway. The company hasn’t released a prototype yet, meaning these plans are only conceptual at the moment. But with greener, electrical energy advancing, driveable hovercrafts are closer to reality than you might think.
See the digital prototype here: https://www.motortrend.com/news/cadillac-evol-flying-car-concept-2021-ces/?galleryimageid=2501599
Touchless Video Doorbell
In the future, doorbells aren’t just obsolete decorations. This pandemic-inspired contraption uses a camera to make ringing your neighbors even easier.
This doorbell from Alarm.com, has a video component that notices you when standing outside. There’s an audio function as well, so you can talk through it while remaining contactless. Keeping germs off doorbells, and other commonly touched surfaces, are an innovative way to contain an infectious spread.
Find out more about this no-contact doorbell here: https://alarm.com/
Those are some of the coolest, game-changing technology 2021 has to offer. Though some products aren’t available yet, the advancement showcased at CES this year is mind-blowing, to say the least. Even under the threat of a pandemic, humans have made incredible strides in technology.
Digital Spring Cleaning: How to Cut Device Clutter, Improve Organization & Security
Spring is approaching quickly, and everyone is getting ready for outdoor fun. While spending hours outside is a valuable part of a midwestern spring, many also pivot to tackling spring cleaning. The clutter that builds up over the winter months proves that reorganizing is a necessary chore. Though our physical spaces can get pretty messy, our computers can get even worse.
If you’re like me, you have folders upon folders on your desktop, with pictures and files scattered about. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what your desktop even looks like behind all the miscellaneous JPEGs. Organizing your computer is an imperative part of spring cleaning, and there are plenty of ways to tidy up and secure all your important devices.
Update Your Apps & Systems
Updating your software has got to be the first part of digital upkeep. When our apps and devices change so quickly, some of the bugs we experience can occur from operating on older versions. This step might not come to mind instantly for decluttering, but it has a lot of importance in running your computer smoothly.
One of the biggest reasons for updating software is for protection purposes. Going through with these updates reduces future risk from malfunction and pesky viruses. Check all of your devices like phones, apps, smart TVs, computers, and tablets to ensure all devices are updated with the latest fixes and operating systems.
Clean Your Desktop
Now that everything is updated, the cleaning can commence. For many, the desktop might look like a complete nightmare. Organizing this might be a laborious feat, but it’s not too difficult to accomplish.
Firstly, it’s time to trash everything on the desktop that’s no longer relevant. I’m surprised often at the excessive amount of documents I have that I don’t need or want. Just looking through and purging your saved files can make a considerable difference both digitally and mentally.
A helpful and simple solution for the remaining files is to start sorting them. Creating folders for projects, personal writing resumes, and other categories help sort your materials in an easily accessible manner. Color code them or arrange them however you like; just make sure they’re organized in a fashion you understand.
Organize Your Email
Email: the most necessary and anxiety-inducing medium to declutter. If you’re not one of those diligent email-deleters, then you might need to do some inbox cleaning this spring.
The first task is to delete, delete, delete. Superfluous spam increases the number of your unread mail to frightening heights. Deleting old and unwanted messages can unclog your mail and restore some space. Deleting email clutter is a necessary step but won’t initially control the influx of future spam.
To ensure long-lasting organization, set your spam and junk folder to filter out needless mail. There are many ways to do this, but with Gmail, you can go into settings and list email addresses to block. These addresses will end up in your spam folder, eliminating the continual annoyance of marketers, bots, and chain emails.
I know those TV subscription deals were pretty tempting in quarantine. But those 7-day free trials, if unchecked, stay around longer than expected. Now is the perfect time to go back through your subscriptions to make sure you’re not overpaying.
Just like updating an app, managing which apps you’re still paying for is just as important. Who hasn’t upgraded Duolingo after ditching those Spanish lessons a month later? There might be a few subscriptions you didn’t even remember purchasing, which is why this task is necessary. Going through each app on your phone is not only great for decluttering but for releasing pressure on your wallet as well.
When you’re deleting and unsubscribing from various websites, make sure to delete your profiles along with them. Without removing your profiles, the apps will still retain your information. Delete all personal info in each app you’re unsubscribing from to keep your confidential data safe.
The ultimate protection between your information and someone else is a strong and reliable password. Websites and apps are now updated to ask for password changes and new protocols, making remembering them difficult. It’s time, this spring, to get all your passwords in order.
Check through your passwords to see if any lack strength. Hefty passwords usually contain symbols and numbers in unorthodox sequences, not just a word with many letters. Make changes to passwords that don’t meet the security criteria you want.
Another safety tip is to use two-step verification. Often included in email log-ins, you’ll find a separate question or a text message identification for added security. For special online accounts like banking, it’s important to create layers of protection for your valuables. Check the privacy settings on any website to enable two-step verification for your most sensitive accounts.
Cleaning is something we might not love to do but is an undeniable part of being human. When it comes to digital cleaning, it thankfully takes way less physical labor than usual. Try these steps to secure and organize your online information, readying your mind for a decluttered spring and summer.
Digital Valentine’s Day Ideas
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and gift-giving is arguably the holiday’s primary focus. While so many of us are quarantining, it might be hard to trade tangible gifts. If seeing your partner or family members is more difficult this year, here are some smart, digital ideas for great Valentine’s Day gifts and activities.
Wellness App Subscription
Meditation, yoga, and mindfulness activities are on the rise this year. Spending many days inside means there’s a lot of time to focus on our introspection. Practicing mindfulness tasks is easy with various websites and apps to download.
Buying a yearly subscription for an app like Calm or Headspace is an exceptional gift for 2021. With these programs you can find guided meditations and many soothing playlists to choose from. Exercises specific to anxiety, depression, anger, and stress are great for when life is a little too overwhelming. If your partner is having trouble sleeping, meditations and tips for better rest are available on both applications.
Giving the gift of relaxation is unbelievably simple this year. Provide a loving gesture from afar by including a mindfulness app subscription as your Valentine’s present.
Check out Headspace and Calm here:
Who doesn’t love a commemorative scrapbook from their loved ones? With many people having access to smartphones, taking pictures and documenting trips is extremely common. Putting together a slideshow of memories is an easy way to show your deep affection.
Creating a short movie on your iPhone is painless and instantly shareable. If you go into your Photos app, there’s a section where it has a facial recognition feature. Clicking on your friend or partner’s icon magically unfolds all of the photos you have of them on your phone. There’s a play button, too, that creates the slideshow function. You can edit, add photos, and share the slideshow in seconds with your Valentine.
A digital book of memories is a wonderful, personalized gift for your beloved. Check out more about slideshow creation on Apple products here:
Online Cooking Class
Here is a fantastic idea for Valentine’s Day that’s safe and interactive. If there’s a dish or dessert you’ve always dreamed of making, there are specialized cooking courses all over the internet to peruse.
There are a few websites to checkout for cooking courses online, but Cozymeal has some great Chicago chef options.
Many restaurants in the city have created alternate routes for supporting their business. Cooking classes are one of the primary ways we can give back to the chefs we cherish in our communities. On Cozymeal, you can find chefs based on location, cuisine, and difficulty. Besides using booking websites, checking your favorite restaurant’s website is a stellar way to see if they offer online courses.
This culinary gift will inspire your loved one for months and years to come. Check out all sorts of classes on the Cozymeal website:
The complications of scheduling a card drop off or meeting in person are frustrations of the past. Animated eCards are a safe and silly way to show your appreciation. There are plenty of options to choose from for eCards from standard and romantic to extremely goofy.
American Greetings is a great site to check out for traditional styles. They have a wonderful selection of romantic-themed eCards like hearts, flowers, and funny animals.
For a sillier Valentine, the singing and dancing messages on JibJab might be what you’re looking for. Renowned for their extremely personalized approach, these eCards are great for anyone with a sense of humor. Crop your friend or partner’s face on the JibJab website and plop them into a choreographed dance number. For Valentine’s day, there are even Rick Astley, Grease, and Lady Gaga themed greetings.
Look at all the customizable options here:
Digital gifts aren’t the only way to show love and appreciation. If you’re quarantined with your friends, family, or partner, here are some safe Valentine’s ideas and activities.
Love and adoration are feelings we all share for one another. Making Valentine’s Day a special event this year can be uncomplicated and safe with these brilliant ideas. Whether you’re removed from your beloved or cozily at home together, there’s an abundance of possibilities to make the holiday remarkable. Enjoy these digital romantic ideas and activities and make this Valentine’s Day unforgettable.
Learn Something New: Top Resources for Free or Cheap Remote Learning
Learning doesn’t stop just because we aren’t in the classroom. With many of us transitioning to remote schooling and working, anything seems possible with the internet at our fingertips. For those of us who need some extra stimulation, there are plenty of resources for free or cheap learning. Here’s a list of wonderful apps and websites to peruse if you’re craving to achieve something new.
What’s an online learning list without the beloved Duolingo? This app has a considerable amount of languages to choose from completely free of charge.
Duolingo utilizes different approaches for holistic language learning. Though conversing in real life might be hard to do, there are components of the app that can substitute it. The pronunciation feature incorporates speaking out loud into the lesson. Alongside grammar, spelling, and conjugation, each course contains diverse educational opportunities.
One of the best, and arguably most annoying features, of Duolingo, is their reminders. Anyone who has used the app knows the incessant nature of the Duolingo owl in your texts and emails. Though it may be frustrating, language proficiency only comes with practice. The app knows that and will remind you to do your work consistently to meet your goals.
Find Duolingo on the App Store and check out more here: https://www.duolingo.com
Tynker: Coding For Kids
Coding has become an essential tool in today’s workforce. Even if it’s not for your career, learning the ins and outs of coding are exceedingly helpful. With Tynker, you can start your kids off with an entertaining, interactive app for learning code.
This award-winning program makes learning sequencing and pattern recognition enjoyable. The app has even transformed to incorporate kids who are pre-readers. With 200 challenges and counting, Tynker will never run out of fun exercises to try.
Coding isn’t the only focus on this learning app. With the new art and music station, Tynker includes composing music and learning math into its colorful world. The animation studio is also available, teaching graphics and storytelling together.
With a strong code focus, Tynker has much to teach to inquisitive children of all ages.
Download Tynker in the App Store and learn more about the app here: https://www.tynker.com
Star Chart is the free astronomy app for remote planetary exploration. Using your phone or iPad, you can search and find all sorts of stars and planets. The universe is entirely viewable with this magnificent application.
There are a few different ways you can explore with Star Chart. One example is the ability to point your device into the sky and have the app tell you exactly what stars are there. It’s almost like having a star GPS in your pocket.
You can also learn any info about stars, gas giants, and everything else in the universe. You will be able to master the star placements in the northern and southern hemispheres. If constellations pique your interest, you can learn and study all 88 of them.
There’s so much to investigate in space, and Star Chart has it all in one downloadable app.
Get Star Chart here: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/star-chart/id345542655
When flipping through podcasts isn’t enough, a trivia game can provide just as much obscure information. Similarly to Trivial Pursuit, Trivia Crack is a six category contest to play alone or with friends. It’s the perfect app for the avid learner who enjoys endless access to facts.
The objective of Trivia Crack is to win rounds and earn characters. The only way you can achieve characters is by answering three questions correctly. These questions are chosen from the six categories, which include sports, entertainment, and geography. Once you’ve received a character from all of the categories, you win the round.
Even in its simplicity, the knowledge available is absolutely endless. Download this app and challenge your friends to a wide array of fact-based questions.
Check out more about the rules on the app website: https://www.triviacrack.com
Yousician is an excellent app for those of us with dusty guitars or unused keyboards begging to be played. With Yousician, you can achieve your quarantine goals of learning an instrument remotely.
Yousician has intuitive lessons for musicians of all abilities. There are plenty of specialized tutorials for ukulele, piano, bass, guitar, and singing. It even incorporates your phone’s microphone feature for real-time critique when practicing.
Though it’s not free, the trial is accessible for one week with the option to upgrade. Check out more on the Yousician website: https://yousician.com
The ASL App
An important language that Duolingo doesn’t offer is American Sign Language. If this is something you’ve been looking for, The ASL App is available for all cellular devices.
The main purpose of this program is to teach you conversational ASL. With a huge selection of phrases to choose from, learning this language has never been quicker. Over 2,000 expressions are available on the app, with many different signers to study with.
Explore more about ASL and the app on the website: https://theaslapp.com
Home can be a hard place to discover new things. As innovative apps emerge each day, there are even more opportunities to find the right educational tool. From language learning to introductory coding, there are endless resources online. Try out these free or cheap learning tools to achieve your goals remotely.