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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.
Exercise At Home: Our Favorite Streaming Fitness Options
Trying to get the most out of our home in quarantine can be frustrating and extremely limiting. Our abode has become an office, a studio, a meditation space, and a gym all in one. Figuring out how to make enough space for exercise is an issue that’s perplexed even the best problem solvers. If running outside in the winter or being around other people is a cause for concern, here are some wonderful streaming tips for great indoor fitness.
Dancing is one of my favorite things I’ve been missing in quarantine. Going to see a show or venturing out to a club is something most of us haven’t done since the beginning of the pandemic. Though dancing in the mirror or around your apartment can be a likely alternative, it often misses the viable ambiance. Dance Church can add some structure and energy to your movements with the enthusiasm we’ve been lacking.
Started in 2011, Dance Church offers Wednesday and Sunday classes for people of all dancing levels. Each course has different instructors, with multiple genres and styles to try. COVID doesn’t have to eliminate your weekly dance parties; with the ability to stream the exercises on your computer or TV, you can turn your home into a private club. Self-consciousness is a feeling of the past with this exclusive fitness alternative.
Check out the website and weekly schedule at their website:
The simplest form of exercise to do at home has to be yoga. With minimal requirements, this ancient form of movement is our most accessible tool indoors. Though many of us aren’t venturing out to our local Yoga studio, there is an ample amount of instructors around the web to give some comprehensive guidance.
Yoga With Adrienne
The most revered instructor in my household is the calming, charismatic Adrienne. I will often see her face first thing in the morning as I pass the living room, where a roommate or two is streaming her class. With an enormous catalog of videos, it’s easy to see why she’s the primary instructor for many Yoga fans.
Yoga for Adrienne has material for beginners, experienced folks, or particular healing journeys. She has single, short videos available and consecutive playlists for those requiring more structure. There are even specific Yoga instructions for anxiety and stress as well. Yoga with Adrienne has a wide range of topics to choose from, making it a great start for remote exercise.
Check out her videos here:
Good Body Feel
If you’re looking for fitness that’s centered around internal feeling and body awareness, Good Body Feel is the right place to start. A Canadian studio founded by Robin Lacambra, their practices involve connecting Yoga, Pilates, and mindfulness.
Tapping into their new virtual studio, viewers can experience multiple instructors sharing guided practices involving interconnectedness and care. A focus on trauma, anti-oppression, and community involves a unique perspective from most Yoga classes. With daily courses operating on a sliding scale, Good Body Feel is an unmatched workout for both inner and outer contemplations.
Find instructors and courses at their website: https://www.goodbodyfeel.com/
Popsugar Fitness is just as fun as the name implies. Streaming on the reliable Youtube, these free fitness classes explore an extensive range of techniques and workouts.
If you’ve been struggling maintaining the fitness aspects of your normal life, taking a look through Popsugar’s catalog might inspire you to get back on track. Ab workouts, dance classes, and cardio are just a few of the specific classes you can choose from. Reminiscent of vintage workout tapes, these charismatic instructors remind us of the fun in routine exercising.
If you’re pursuing a personal fitness plan or just browsing for something new, Popsugar has plenty videos to peruse for your indoor workouts.
You can check out their Youtube page with this link: https://www.youtube.com/c/POPSUGARFitness/videos
Daily Burn 365
Needing some structure in your fitness routine? Daily Burn 365 has some solutions to get you off the couch and working out.
Daily Burn 365’s most enticing program is their daily, thirty minute live-streamed course. Every morning at nine, you’ll have the opportunity to start the day with a personal workout in the comfort of your home. If the early morning doesn’t suit your schedule, each course becomes available on their website for the remainder of the day.
Their goal is to get us quarantined folk back into exercising and a healthy lifestyle. Each course also includes modification options, in case the workouts are too simple or frustrating. Though motivation can become harder as we stumble into winter, Daily Burn 365 offers a steady solution for your daily fitness needs.
Check out their website here:
Fitness can be hard to incorporate into our regular schedules, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. Youtube and free trials are available, though, for at-home approaches to reestablishing cardio and exercise. I know working up a sweat inside your apartment might not be your first option, but there’s plenty of enticing programs to change your mindset. Exercising at home can be fun and worth it with a little bit of time and the perfect virtual option.
Our Favorite Free Online Activities & Remote Learning Apps for Kids
Schools are opening across the country for the fall semester. Though many kids are going back to regular methods of learning, virtual practices are being utilized as well with both “positive and adverse impacts”.
You might feel nervous for kids to have additional screen time, but learning online can be easy, fun, and educational. With so many options to choose from, it might feel impossible to find the right remote tactics. From online workshops to interactive games, Below is a list to help keep kids engaged both in and out of school hours.
Class Dojo is an app that feels the most like in-person learning. Its basic functions provide seamless communication between parents, students, and teachers. With learning existing outside of normative structures, Class Dojo can provide some organizational tools to keep everyone on the same page.
The app has a couple of features to aid teachers and parents with their kids’ work ethic and concentration. There are timer functions to delegate how much time is devoted to certain activities and noise meters to control outside distractions. Keeping all the child’s priorities in line is hard even without a pandemic, so Class Dojo makes it easier to organize their work and check on their studies. Visit Class Dojo.
Similar to Class Dojo, Outschool provides an educational extension to your kid’s school curriculum. There are a variety of classes to choose from, with a focus on small-group learning.
Courses of all interests can be found by scrolling through Outschool’s website. If you’ve got a tech-savvy adolescent, there are classes on game and web design. For the literary inclined, there are creative writing courses ready to be explored. With so many of us relegated to learning at home, Outschool makes it easy by having an extensive catalog of enticing classes for all students K-12. Visit Outschool.
Grace and Friends Birthday Cafe
Learning doesn’t always have to be dry and information-heavy. Sometimes we learn things by being provided with something more interactive. Take Grace and Friends Birthday Cafe: a simplistic game that has the power of teaching subitizing and quantitatives for even the most stubborn among us.
A repetitive structure and birthday theme make this math game perfect for your beginner mathematician. With multiple levels, your child will be learning under the guise of fun and competition. Get an early jump on subitizing with this game and see your child’s skills drastically improve. Visit Grace and Friends Birthday Cafe.
Math Science Music
For our teenagers, learning remotely often has a deficiency in arts education. Woodworking and band rehearsal have tremendous limits when it’s necessary to maintain social distancing. Luckily, Math Science Music provides some solutions to interdisciplinary learning when it comes to music-making.
This website contains lesson plans, interactive functions, and games to practice math and science through music. Providing teachers with a free toolkit on the site, you can keep your students engaged with topics ranging from geometry to coding. With a focus on creating and understanding music, students of all ages can combine their academic interests into making percussion loops and practicing music theory. Visit Math Science Music.
If you’re looking for a website that hosts games for all different subjects, then Fun Brain is the place to go. Since 1997, Fun Brain has had a myriad of educational games for K-8 students.
As a young kid, I was overly obsessed with marine biology and anything aquatic. The coral reef simulation on the website is a perfect look into these diverse ecosystems. You can pick and choose various animals and plants to see how they interact with each other, discovering their intricate world and all the features that comprise our wondrous reefs.
If biology isn’t a topic of interest, there’s reading, writing, and educational videos to get your kid engaged. Comics to peruse are available on the site, as well as scientific vlogs and cartoons. There is so much to explore on Fun Brain, it might even be impossible to get your kids off the site. Visit Fun Brain.
Crossword lovers, here’s an excellent alternative for you. The app is called Wordscapes and it combines problem solving and vocabulary in this sophisticated puzzle game.
For competitors of all ages, this app twists a normal crossword into a tetris-esque contest. The player starts with a few letters with only a couple intersecting rows. The goal is to use the three letters assigned to make different words for all of the rows available. As the rows and letters increase, the harder it is to conjure up new words and make them fit on the board. The simplistic concept is great for anyone with an adoration for puzzle solving. Visit Wordscapes.
Coco – Educational Games
Similar to some of the other sites and apps I included above, Coco is a collection of activities for kids to enjoy. Focusing on memorization techniques, this app has plenty of educational games for when your child needs a mental break from their classes.
With options to play by yourself, multiplayer, or split-screen, Coco has the potential to engage anyone and enhance attention and memory. Popular games like ColorMind focus on memorizing color combinations with increasing complexity. Other games like Silly Sequence are more rapid-fire, where letters and numbers appear on the screen with the goal of catching the duplicates.
Simply put, Coco has a range of games to make free time an opportunity for engaging our minds and memory. Visit Coco Educational Games.
Staying home and learning remotely doesn’t mean losing out on education. In fact, the accessibility of the internet has made education more convenient and creative. Whether your kid needs assistance in the classroom or wants to engage in stimulating puzzles, there are endless possibilities to explore. Brushing up on math or learning a skill or two has never been easier with this list of wonderful activities for kids of all ages.
5 Ways to Stay Mentally and Physically Healthy While Working From Home
With the days of a “new normal” afoot, our daily lives are quickly changing. We’ve had to adjust from office life and conference room meetings to keeping your cats off the keyboard when you’re on a video call. Let’s face it, you’ve been looking at the same four walls for the past six months now…and you’re starting to lose it! Here are FIVE things that I have done to keep level headed and stay productive.
Make Sure to Take Breaks
It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get caught up in work when you wake up and roll out of bed straight to your laptop. Another factor is that you may feel that taking a break shows that you’re not hardworking while remote. Alan Kohll put it well in saying “Chaining yourself to a desk or scarfing down your lunch in your cubicle isn’t a recipe for success – it’s a recipe for disaster.” Every hour or so take a short break, go outside, stretch, watch that funny video you’ve been dying to watch, anything but work.
Stop Working At a Set Time
Just like rolling out of bed straight to the laptop, its just as easy to stay on your laptop until the wee hours of the night. Set a time every day where the laptop closes, work stops, and the fun begins! Don’t neglect yourself, you need time to wind down and re-energize for the next day. Make plans and set appointments that will make you close down your workstation and head out the door.
Keep It Moving
There they are, the same walls you’ve been looking at day and night. Nothing says stuck in a loop like having the same day over and over again. Its time to change things up, now pick up that laptop and bring it into a different room! Changing my scenery helps me keep things fresh, I’ll grab my laptop and work in the basement, living room, or even outside. Another way to keep it moving would be to invest in a standing desk. Now if you’re like me and consider yourself a DIY’er, I would recommend this video from LRN2DIY on YouTube
Optimize Your Internet Connection
Nothing makes you want to throw your laptop out of the window more than a poor internet connection. Whether if its that your WiFi doesn’t reach a certain area or your connection is lost, make sure your equipment is up to date. I’d personally recommend the Unifi Amplifi line. You can have anything from a simple router to an at-home mesh WiFi network. If you have some gamers at home as well, the Netgear Nighthawk line is a fantastic option to ensure a strong WiFi connection.
Add Entertainment to the Day
As we’re working remote, the social water cooler chitchat is disappearing. You don’t realize how important your social interactions with your coworkers were until they have come to a halt. Even though we’re not in the same building anymore, try to set up calls to collaborate with team members, get their input, or even set up a happy hour call at the end of the day! As most companies are using messaging software, start up a channel for fun topics. As an idea, a pets chat….who doesn’t want to see everyone’s pets during a stressful day!?
7 Apps To Help Reduce Stress and Promote Relaxation
There are a multitude of ways we manage our stress and anxiety levels on a daily basis. For many, relief is attributed to a variety of outdoor exercises. Yoga is known to help with “exaggerated stress responses” alongside team sports and other physical activities. Talk-therapy and psychiatry are common as well, with a combination of these tactics effectively reducing our overwhelming feelings. For the busybodies and workaholics, taking hours out of the day to deal with stress might be too time-consuming. With this frequent problem, tactics online for dealing with unresolved anxiety have risen to popularity. Guided meditations and virtual journaling are now extremely accessible with the availability of smartphones. With a little direction, you can quickly transform your anxious feelings with these downloadable apps.
One of the most confusing parts of feeling overwhelming anxiety is the random bombardment of unnecessary thought. When these thoughts become too rampant, Moodpath is a great tool to organize and process those feelings without the help of a therapist.
Moodpath offers simple questions revolving around your emotional state to begin cataloging your anxiety. It begins with questions about your sleep, performance, inner frustrations, and temperament. Alongside the initial questioning, the app will also ask you about your general feelings: confident, enthusiastic, happy, empty, to name a few. With a calendar and journal feature in the app, you’ll be able to log your interiority every day and start to understand your stress and its causes.
Learn more about Moodpath at https://mymoodpath.com/en/.
If journaling is one of your main tools for decompressing, then this app will make your relief even easier. With Daylio, you will be able to set reminders, create goals, and track your mood for a holistic writing experience.
In this journaling application, your entries don’t have to be lengthy or laborious. Daylio uses a combination of emoji expressions and activity selections to create a visual writing experience. You can add your own activities during the day and write how each event made you feel, creating a sequential moodboard. You’ll also be able to create your own distinguishable icons to identify each of your activities and journal entries. If getting back into journaling during quarantine has been difficult, Daylio will make the transition a whole lot simpler.
Learn more about Daylio at https://daylio.webflow.io/.
Meditating has become one of the most popular ways to relieve our minds in quarantine. It doesn’t require much except for a place to sit. Headspace provides guided meditation for all kinds of purposes, allowing you to meditate wherever you are in the world.
For different relationships, moods, or tribulations, Headspace has options for most common predicaments. With the packs that the app provides, you can choose from a variety of meditations tailored to your feelings. For those dealing with grief and regret to those of us who simply need a confidence boost, the possibilities are almost endless. Updating consistently with new meditations, Headspace is definitely the best app for controlling stress through at-home mindfulness.
Learn more about Headspace at https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app.
For those of us who need to fight the itch of anxiety by exercising, Runkeeper will wonderfully assist you. Giving runners an incentive to get out into the fresh air, this app includes many features to make exercising more intentional.
Runkeeper works to aid our stress-relieving activities, with features that track your own goals and improvement. Whether it’s walking, biking, or even snowboarding, you can track your mileage and set limits for yourself in whatever sport you choose. If you’re practicing in a marathon, there are all types of schedules you can use to help meet your goals. With the scheduling side handled, you’ll spend more time outdoors successfully flushing out the stress of your workweek.
Learn more about Runkeeper at https://runkeeper.com/cms/.
Sometimes, you might need a mindless distraction to keep the anxiety at bay. Instead of cataloging and delving into the cause of your stress, a playful game can also help calm your stimulated mind. Viridi is an app revolving around growing plants that facilitates a serene world for the user.
While seemingly pointless, a need for distraction makes Viridi a key app for stress relief. Tranquil, ephemeral music flows as you plant each succulent. The pot, rotating slowly in a soft pink landscape, holds the array of plants you must attend to. With simple, menial tasks at its basis, Viridi provides a pleasant experience to divert the mind from chaos. For anyone who finds gardening a peaceful experience, this app is definitely worth checking out.
Learn more about Viridi at http://www.icewatergames.com/viridi.
The top-rated app of 2017, Calm is a meditation and sleep stories app that offers many functions for stress and anxiety relief.
One of the most widely used features in Calm is the breathing exercises. With the ability to pick from one minute to infinity, the screen appears with instructions for breathing in and breathing out. The circle on the screen expands and collapses, imitating our own lungs as we inhale and exhale. Seems simple, right? It might appear cumbersome, but concentrated breathing is one of Calm’s most helpful tactics to mitigate an anxiety attack.
Alongside the breathwork, Calm has meditation and calming music choices for restful thinking and better sleep. The mental fitness option comes with instructions on how to meditate with personal instructors. For sleep, there are countless playlists and mixes from rain sounds to light ambient music. If tunes are too chaotic, there’s also a plethora of sleep stories that will surely aid in your rest.
Learn more about Calm at https://www.calm.com/
For regaining focus, an app like Splashy can help center your mind. It’s a game with a simple task, but ultimately rewarding for those of us who need a diversion from our anxieties.
Splashy is a game that requires fierce concentration. All you need to do is tap the ball on the screen, move it from platform to platform, and get it to the finish line. With a feasible objective, this game can be a triumphant distraction from all outside stresses. You’ll have a great time with this recreational app, concentrating too vigilantly to remember your daily frustrations.
Learn more about Splashy at https://apps.apple.com/us/app/splashy/id1319500389
Leaving the house to get therapeutic treatment is a method of the past. Now with calming, downloadable apps, relieving anxiety can be easy and free. Whether it’s gaming, organizing, or meditating, everyone has a different practice for eliminating stress. Hopefully, this list will provide a few great options to manage your day to day life and improve your relaxation.
Top 5 Cloud-Based TV Platforms
The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone spending much more time watching TV. If you’re looking to expand your TV options, or if you want to ditch cable and try a cloud-based service instead, there are many options to choose from.
Cloud TV allows customers maximum flexibility in taking their preferred programming on the go at any time they choose. Cloud TV generally works in the same way as other cloud-based services, meaning that information and programming are stored on remote servers that allow users to access and stream or download media through any suitable internet connection at any time. With the advent of cloud technology, many new cloud-based TV platforms are appearing to address growing consumer demand. In this post, we look at the top five platforms in the industry today.
1. YouTube TV
YouTube TV has the powerful advantage of taking advantage of the familiarity and popularity of YouTube and its powerful presence for many years as the go-to video sharing platform. In addition to the millions and millions of user-generated videos available for streaming on YouTube, YouTube TV offers live streaming of multiple TV channels.
YouTube TV also capitalizes on consumer familiarity in its user interface. With some intuitive modifications, it operates in the same simple way as always.
Depending on your local area, YouTube TV offers local station programming for most networks. The platform also includes most major sports networks, although the NFL Network is not currently part of YouTube TV’s programming.
YouTube TV currently costs $49.99 per month, and several network add-ons like Showtime and Starz are available, usually at less than $10 per month.
YouTube TV subscriptions also include access to YouTube Premium, which includes original programming and some special features like ad-free streaming and YouTube Music Premium. YouTube TV’s original programming has not been as active or critically acclaimed as some other platforms, but the company claims dedication to investing heavily in original offerings.
The original industry giant for streaming TV remains near the top of the list for almost all streaming TV viewers. In about a decade, Netflix transitioned from a highly disruptive DVD rental service to a streaming service, and now to an industry leader in highly popular original productions.
While Netflix is not a complete replacement for a cable or satellite subscription, there original programming and offerings of other very popular and highly re-watchable content make it an essential add-on for cloud-based TV customers everywhere.
Netflix is available on virtually every streaming device currently on the market. It offers three tiers of service, depending on the picture quality and the number of continuous streams a customer wants. Monthly plans run between $8.99 and $15.99.
Netflix also still offers the DVD rental service that put it on the map. For movie fans who enjoy classics that are virtually impossible to find for rental anywhere else, the Netflix inventory remains impressive.
3. Amazon Prime Video
Amazon has a strong history of entering into almost every consumer-based marketplace with force, and Amazon Prime Video has become an extremely popular offering. Like Netflix, Prime Video is not a replacement for a full cable or satellite channel lineup but acts as a great add-on for on-demand entertainment. Amazon’s original programming has become more popular in the last couple of years, although new releases are not nearly as frequent or consistent as Netflix. The service does include a wide variety of old classic and B-movies that many customers enjoy.
The biggest bang for the buck with Prime Video goes to regular Amazon customers. If you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, Amazon Prime Video is part of the package that consists of several features and savings for Amazon customers. As a standalone service, Amazon Prime Video costs from $8.99 to $12.99 per month. If you are not a regular Amazon customer and do not find the other benefits of a Prime subscription valuable, the standalone Prime Video expense may not be worth the cost.
The user interface is intuitive and consistent with traditional Amazon platform use. However, the service does not allow customers to create multiple accounts or profiles under a single subscription, and simultaneous streaming on two devices simultaneously.
Perhaps the fastest-growing platform is Hulu, as newly developed Hulu + Live TV is hitting the “cord-cutting” marketplace powerfully. Hulu has traditionally operated as a streaming service that provided access to most TV shows the day following its original broadcast along with some original programs.
Hulu + Live TV costs $54.99 per month, markets itself as a full replacement for cable or satellite TV subscriptions. Local channel availability varies significantly in some cases from city to city, and prospective customers should check the available lineup carefully. For sports, Hulu currently provides the ESPN networks and the major networks’ sports programming.
Hulu markets aggressively to family customers and allows users to create six personally configured viewer profiles under a single subscription. Simultaneous streaming is allowed on unlimited devices on a subscriber’s home network and up to three devices away from home.
5. HBO NOW
HBO has been the standard-bearer for cable TV movies and original programming for decades. Previously, HBO offered streaming service through HBO GO, which required an active ordinary HBO subscription through a traditional TV provider. HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service that provides HBO’s original programming without a cable or satellite TV subscription.
HBO’s programming, including The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, has placed it at the front of the line for millions of viewers. In addition to original content, HBO NOW includes a rotating selection of movies shown on the network that is available on demand.
HBO NOW costs $14.99 per month, and many cord-cutters find that the cost is comparable or cheaper than the subscription cost of HBO through a cable or satellite provider. HBO NOW is compatible with almost all streaming devices and has a slick and enjoyable interface.
If you are looking for more streaming TV resources, check out our cord-cutting guide.
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5 Ways to Improve Your Internet Data Security
Whether your internet network serves your home devices, your home office, or a small to medium business, internet data security is always an ongoing concern. The threat of cyber-attacks, hackers, and other malicious actors continues to increase as more and more of our business and personal financial lives are conducted over the internet on connective devices and in the cloud. Here are some basic common sense ways to improve your personal and business data security’s exposure over the internet.
1. Construct a Secure Data Infrastructure
We often focus on perimeter security to the extent that our system’s overall infrastructure security suffers. Many times the vast majority of security budgeting and planning goes into firewall protection. There are multiple ways that a firewall can be penetrated or defeated by persons with access to system information and weaknesses. Firewalls are very important but are just the beginning of comprehensive data security.
Layered security systems are important for defeating hackers and cyber attacks. Every device on your network should be running fully updated operating systems and using applications that are updated with all available security patches. It is essential that you have operating systems, applications, and programs that automatically update or that you manually check for updates regularly. Internal devices should all also have filtering and antivirus software installed and operating properly. Depending on the size and scope of the data that you are protecting, investing in intrusion/attack detection and continuous monitoring software may also be useful for cost-effective and efficient data infrastructure security.
2. Make Sure All Users On Your Network Are Educated On Data Security Risks
Whether you have local family users on your personal network or have co-workers and employees accessing data and network resources locally or remotely, it is critical that every person on your network understands and uses best security practices.
No one should ever click on links in any form of messaging from unknown and untrusted sources, whether inside emails, texts, or instant messages. All users should log off all applications properly when finished using them, and credentials should not be saved on operating systems or inside programs. Implementing dual authorization of any financial transactions, which requires your additional authorization, also adds an extra layer of protection.
3. Pay Attention To Your Privacy Settings
Your social networking applications contain vast amounts of personal information about all aspects of your online activities. If you ignore privacy settings on any of the platforms that you use, the default settings likely provide visibility over the internet that would shock you. For every platform and application that you use you should carefully check the privacy settings. You should understand the settings and select what you want to share with anyone, only with contacts or friends, or with no one at all.
In addition to social networks, you should understand how your private information might be visible on online storage services. Unless you understand the privacy settings on Google Docs, you should not use it to store sensitive personal information. If you are using Dropbox for storing sensitive data you should understand how to use encryption to archive your information.
Your everyday web surfing is also a possible security threat depending on the browser you use and the privacy settings you select. Even incognito mode with common browsers is vulnerable to tracking by marketers and search engines. There are software add-on options available that can assist in avoiding internet tracking.
4. Be Smart With Passwords and Keep Your Contact Info Secure
Weak passwords are much more vulnerable than in previous times, as hacking techniques and methods become more advanced. Use complex and lengthy passwords in every use that requires password security. Go for 12 or more characters and include a mixture of capitals and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Use a different password for every service or application in the event that a single password is compromised somehow. In order to keep your passwords securely stored and accessible to you only, look for a quality password manager program.
If you share your primary email address or phone number with any online application or website, you are inviting an unlimited number of spam emails, text messages, and telemarketing calls by voluntarily placing your contact information on marketing lists that are sold all around the world. If you need to sign up for an unknown service, use an alternate email address or even an alternate phone number. If you decide later that the resource is trusted and you want to use your primary contact information, you can update as needed.
Bonus Tip: Use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on Email Accounts
Two factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security beyond a password that makes security breaches of your accounts much more difficult. The two most common ways to implement 2FA is through a physical key that verifies through connecting to your physical devices such as Yubikey or app-based 2FA options like Google Authenticator and Authy. Both systems make access to your accounts nearly impossible without physical access to your access key (Sim swapping attacks being the only exception).
Most people implement 2FA through app-based verification. The 2FA apps are connected to your accounts, using a mathematical algorithm with a numerical code that rotates every minute, specific to your account. After you enter your username and password, there’s a prompt to enter your 2FA code to access the account.
2FA has been available on popular email services such as Gmail for many years. Using 2FA on your email is critical since email provides access to personal information and the ability to reset the passwords of your other accounts. Additionally, there have been many significant data breaches over the past several years were usernames, passwords and emails have been obtained by hackers. In many cases, people use the same passwords at multiple sites, making them easy targets for criminal activity. Learn more about 2FA and implementing it into your account security at Google.
5. Use End-To-End Encryption With All Messaging Apps
There are many messaging apps in use today, with more being developed all the time. Modern messaging is quickly supplanting email, text messaging, and voice calling as the go-to way to communicate with family, friends, and even for business purposes. Most messaging apps use encryption, although the default method is “in transit” encryption. This encryption is deciphered by the app provider and messages are stored on their servers. If those servers are compromised in any way, your data is exposed. By choosing end-to-end encryption only you and your end-user will be able to see the information you share. Be sure to determine if your messaging app uses end-to-end encryption by default or if it can be selected for specific or all conversations.
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