Features

How to build and manage your WFH or online class setup

Manage your work and stress levels while indoors

Photo by Luke Peters

Published

on

On any other normal day, we would be preparing for several things. Some of us are off to work, dealing with the nine to five grind everyone talks about. The younger ones are off to school, with some even entering college for the first or last time. To prepare we’ll need to buy some stuff we need — from school supplies to devices that will aid in school or work.

Except well, we’re not living in a normal world — at least since 2020 started. My guess is that you’ve been stuck at home for a long time because of this pandemic. If you’ve already started working before this happened, you’re most likely still working — but, from home. If you’re supposed to be going to school, you won’t be seeing the campus for a while.

However, that shouldn’t stop you from preparing for that, as well. Of course, there will be less school supply-shopping than before. But, if you need a great setup for either work-from-home or online classes, here are some tips to keep in mind.

If you don’t have what you need yet, it’s best to plan ahead

Obviously, not all of you have a nice laptop for school yet or you prefer working from a desktop than a company laptop. In any case, it’s best to plan on what exactly kind of tech you will purchase to suit your needs. For students, you can still do this even if your school gave you a two-week notice on what kind of machine you need.

It will help to ask your family and friends, especially the tech-savvy ones on the hardware you need. It also helps to get quotations for these devices, especially if you want to build your PC but you’re running on a strict budget. However, keep in mind that shortage is a thing with some parts because of the pandemic.

This isn’t just limited to your devices, as you can also invest in other non-tech items for your setup. Things like a work table, chairs, and appliances are a few of the things you might want to look into. Remember, you’re going to be stuck indoors, possibly for a long time; might as well be comfortable in this space.

Don’t seek powerful hardware if you don’t need it

If you’re planning to buy the devices you need for your setup, I believe that you don’t need gaming PC-levels of power. There’s a reason why your school or workplace gave you a minimum PC spec sheet to begin with.

Consider this advice when you’re planning on what devices to buy. If you prefer to buy a laptop, you don’t have to go for the latest gaming laptops available. Something simple and powerful, with the latest Intel Core i5 inside and 8GB of RAM will do the trick. It’s important that your device can handle Office apps, a web browser, and video calls for 8 hours.

It’s an entirely different situation if your work actually demands a powerful machine, especially data-heavy or graphics work. But again, it’s important to plan ahead when it comes to these things because one, shortages are a thing; and two, consider your wallet’s feelings.

When you do have everything you need, make sure devices work and disinfect everything

Once you already have everything for your setup, do your due diligence and check everything. For your devices, it’s best to do a deep scan of your hard drives for any malware or irrelevant software. I also suggest doing the same on your smartphones, and even installing Office apps on it. It’s just to prepare you for the possibility of your laptop or desktop malfunctioning out of nowhere.

I also highly suggest that you put in more time into checking your peripherals, too. Do routine tests on your microphone, webcam, and headset (including their ports) and optimize according to your use case. These are important especially for those long video calls for class, or during online meetings for work.

Photo by Norbert Levajsics

Finally, disinfect everything properly and diligently. At the very least, try to clean up the parts that you touch more often, like your keyboard, mouse/trackpad, and the lid. Even if it’s brand new, you’re better off safe than sorry with a virus going around. This also goes for the entire space you will be in.

Make sure your internet connection, however you get it, is strong enough

This one is pretty obvious, but it deserves to be repeated over and over again. As much as possible, your WFH setup must access the internet at a stable rate. This even applies to those who simply live off using 4G/5G mobile data, but keep your data limits in mind.

If you don’t know how to make your internet faster, it’s best to call your provider to walk you through it. If your provider is of no help, or if you don’t have the patience to call, research about it. People all over the internet have found ways to access their routers and tick the proper settings to make it work. 

Now, if you’re feeling a bit more generous with your money, invest in another router or a WiFi Mesh system. Essentially, you’ll extend your existing WiFi coverage, and experience high speeds on your own. I do recommend routers that extend your 5Ghz WiFi connection to maximize your speed. 

Your TV can also be a second screen, if you need one

Most modern TVs nowadays come with this standard set of ports: HDMI, S-Video, and VGA. With desktop GPUs and laptops supporting such ports, it’s safe to say that even your TV can be used as its own display. Obviously, you will sacrifice refresh rates and some level of detail, but it’s still a good alternative.

This option is open for those who really need it and/or are not willing to spend for a dedicated PC monitor. If you can work without one, that’s great; save yourself the hassle of buying extra cables. But it’s something to think about if you want to be more productive.

Have a dedicated rest space

Listen, work from home fatigue is an actual thing. At some point, you will no longer be able to tell the difference between the place you sleep in and the place you work in. Because you’re going to be indoors for a long while, that line gets more blurry.

Make it a point to have a space in your room dedicated for leisure. If you need a quick break from work or school work, you have a part of your room for that. Strap up a console there, have an entertainment system, or just Bluetooth speakers will do. For you to function properly for work or school, you need to rest.

I hope these tips helped in preparing you for what’s to come. You will remain indoors for quite a while, so it’s best to prepare and enjoy your time. 

Computers

This 34” LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

In the best way possible

Published

on

I’ve been working on a laptop almost exclusively for the better part of the last decade. It’s been so long that I had forgotten the benefits of working with a bigger screen — a benefit that was shoved into my face when I used the LG UltraWide 34” Curved monitor. 

Easy setup 

Putting it together was relatively easy. I didn’t need any special tools or anything of the sort. Everything just fit into place seamlessly.

Here are all the ports on its back. That’s two (2) HDMI ports, one (1) Display port, two (2) USB downstream ports, one (1) USB upstream port, and one (1) headphone out port.

It also comes with a cable organizer that you kind of clamp to the stand so your setup can look clean.

Once everything is plugged, you only need to use this button at the bottom center of the display to make any changes in the settings or switch between inputs should that be necessary.

My regular workflow

At any given day I can be doing anything from writing an article, a script, coordinating with the team and external partners, copy-editing articles, and video editing among others.

This means I toggle between screens A LOT. Other than that, my posture while working is mostly crouched down since I’m looking at the laptop screen.

However, that all changed when the fire nation attacked. No, I mean, it was definitely shaken up when I started using the LG UltraWide 34” Curved Monitor.

I didn’t really have a proper setup with it owing to the tiny space I live in but in the brief week that I used it, I started craving a better work from home setup.

How the LG UltraWide monitor disrupted my workflow

The first thing I noticed was how I was now looking up instead of looking down. It might not be that big a deal for younger people, but when you reach a certain age, even the smallest improvements to your posture can make a huge difference.

The extra space is invaluable. At one glance I can look at Slack and Tweetdeck. This means I can quickly look up if there’s anything new that needs to be edited while also monitoring any potential news that we should run on the website.

Bonus: I can also have a floating tab with a playlist of my favorite girls TWICE cheering me up as I slog through another work day.

This works in other instances too. I can pull up a press release for reference on one side of the screen and have Google Docs on another. This means I no longer have to quickly press Alt+Tab every time I need to double check details.

Just the overall convenience of seeing more at a glance is already a major upgrade to the workflow I’ve grown accustomed to.

Video editing

I no longer video edit as much as I used to due to changing roles and all. But here, the benefit of having a larger, wider monitor is even more pronounced.

Having a wide workspace means I didn’t have to hide certain tools while editing. They’re just there, easily and immediately accessible when I need them. It was honestly tough going back to the smaller screen especially for this task.

Taking less steps to complete your everyday tasks is a godsend. Every small thing adds up to a faster, smoother, and generally better working experience.

Should you upgrade to the LG Ultrawide 34” Monitor?

There are plenty of things to consider. For people like myself who have mostly worked on laptops, we’re pretty set in our ways. Plus there are a few other peripherals I might need to get so it’s not an easy yes or no decision.

You also need to consider your workspace. As I mentioned, I live in a rather tiny place with very little space to accommodate a fully desktop setup.

But this is me. If you’re still working on a more traditional 16×9 monitor, I guarantee the difference, while jarring at first, can be truly beneficial in the long run.

The LG Ultrawide 34” Curved Monitor retails for PhP 45,999 (around US$ 937). If you’re ready to splurge to up your productivity, this isn’t a bad place to start.

SEE ALSO: LG UltraGear 25” Gaming Monitor review: Enough to get you started

Continue Reading

Entertainment

The cost of the post-pandemic movie

Why you should care about Mulan’s terrible premiere

Published

on

The fate of the Hollywood blockbuster rests on a fingertip. A formerly grandiose affair with celebrities dressing up to the nines, the red-carpet premiere is now an impossibility thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. On the other side, streaming services blossomed with new titles and exclusives. It was (and is) a great era for the home theater. But the home theater will not last forever. Hollywood is now facing a crisis for the future of the premiere.

If the past year is any indication, Hollywood will, of course, not go down without a fight. Large networks and production houses have released their own streaming platforms to monopolize their content, putting additional weight on a consumer’s budget. Take Disney’s Disney+ or NBC’s Peacock, for instance. Now, a few of these (like Disney and Netflix) make their own blockbuster content as well. We’ve seen Netflix’s streaming-only premieres already. How about Disney’s (or anyone else’s) Hollywood premieres, which often rely on astounding box office numbers?

This week, we got a taste of such a strange premiere scheme. In an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek detailed the future of a delayed movie, Mulan. Initially premiering in theaters back in March, Mulan was repeatedly delayed because of the continued shutdown of movie theaters. Now, as the company is itching to finally launch it, Chapek announced a hybrid release for the film. Partly premiering in theater in safe countries, the film will also launch simultaneously on Disney+ for unsafe markets.

 

 

Now, here’s the catch: the film will cost US$ 29.99 for Disney+ users. Even if you have a subscription already, you have to fork over approximately PhP 1,474 to watch the new film. Of course, the hair trigger response is, “c’mon, Disney; stop haggling money from your customers.” And the response is right. However, there is so much more to this. Mulan can set the stage for an unprecedented era for Hollywood premieres.

Let’s get down to business

In New York, an average movie ticket costs around US$ 15 (approximately PhP 736). Mulan’s price tag is twice as much as a theater ticket. It’s even weightier in cheaper states and, most especially, in the Philippines (where movie tickets are only around US$ 5). Further, you’ll still need an active Disney+ account to access the film, costing an additional US$ 6.99.

(Naturally, it’s impossible to accurately translate the prices to an Asian market since Disney+ has not launched in all of Southeast Asia yet. We can only assume that Mulan’s streaming price is 200 percent of normal ticket prices, whatever it might be.)

Objectively, Mulan’s price is worse than a regular movie ticket. It’s easy to conclude the argument with this statement and head home. However, there is a way to justify the price.

The whole family plus your cow

Now, a single movie ticket typically admits one person. Buying Mulan pays for the streaming privilege which can typically include an entire family. With a 15-dollar average, two people watching the same Mulan purchase is already a break-even point. In the same vein, a family of four obtains double the value of the 30-dollar film price. Even better, a family can watch the film over and over again. And, as any parent who has a Frozen-loving child can tell you, unlimited playbacks is a blessing for your wallet (albeit a curse on your sanity).

Unfortunately, despite the mathematical mind-bending, Mulan’s price is still far from ideal. The movie-going experience is not the same on a streaming platform as in a cinema.

An assumption of equality

A cinema ticket is price of equality. Besides a few slight differences, everyone is paying for the same product. All other things considered equal, a 20-year old college student is paying and enjoying the same experience as a 50-year old CEO. Same film, same seat cushions, same facilities, same projector.

On the other hand, a streaming subscription cannot assume the same thing. A platform cannot control where and with what device a user will watch the movie from. A 20-year old college student watching the film on a laptop screen in a poorly lit dorm room is not enjoying the same experience as a 50-year old CEO watching the same thing in their high-end home theater with Dolby Atmos.

Likewise, the platform cannot assume how many people will watch the film in one purchase. Now, Mulan is a family film. Disney can easily assume that multi-person families will buy and watch the film. However, how will the audiences take the same price tag for a more polarized movie like Christopher Nolan’s Tenet or the next James Bond film?

All of Hollywood knows you’re here

In the same announcement, Chapek hints that Mulan’s price is just a “one-off.” Basically, other films might not follow the same pricing scheme. In a way, it makes sense. Mulan was made with a pre-coronavirus budget. It was expected to make millions from box office tickets. This might be the only way for Mulan to recoup its many losses. In the future, Disney might make films with lesser budgets and lesser expectations.

However, make no mistake; other filmmakers are intently watching Mulan’s performance on streaming. If Mulan succeeds, they can likely charge the same amount without incurring a lot of losses. That said, streaming premiere prices will likely vary from film to film. Even then, this isn’t the last discussion on the future of the film industry.

If the industry hopes to adapt to the new normal, it needs to rethink its strategy even further. Disney is offering only one solution for the problem of streaming. Unfortunately, the brand’s solution leverages a family-oriented release, one that might not appeal to the average moviegoer today.

A price worth fighting for

My suggestion: Implement a tiered premiere price. Not everyone will want to pay the full 30 dollars for a film they’re not wholly interested in. Most will watch it once and forget about it. Some won’t even care about watching it in HD.

Why not implement a pricing scheme based on those different preferences? For example, charge US$ 5 for a standard-definition, one-time playback premiere; US$ 10 for an HD, one-time playback premiere; US$ 20 for a standard-definition, unlimited playback premiere; and US$ 30 for an HD, unlimited playback premiere. In one swoop, a film can appeal to all streaming markets and needs.

Continue Reading

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Unboxing, Hands-on & Camera Test!

Elegance and sophistication in an ULTRA-big device

Published

on

Just recently, we had a quick video introduction of Samsung’s latest Galaxy Note 20 series. Now, we finally have a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra on our hands!

Be sure to subscribe and hit that notification button to stay notified on our upcoming review video on August 18th.

For now, you can enjoy our unboxing, hands-on, and a quick camera test using the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra by clicking here.

Continue Reading

Trending