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How to build and manage your WFH or online class setup

Manage your work and stress levels while indoors

Photo by Luke Peters

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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. 

First Look

realme 8 5G Unboxing and First Impressions

Midrange game changer?

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Game-changer. It’s a bold adjective to use, especially when you’re describing a smartphone that’s situated in a competitive midrange segment. But realme has always dared to leap, and they’re doing exactly that with the realme 8 5G.

They’re calling it a 5G game-changer. It will require more extensive testing to determine whether that’s true or not, but for the meantime, here are our first impressions of realme’s newest offering.

But first, a quick rundown of the specifications for this device.

Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, 90 hZ 1080p
Processor MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G (7nm)
RAM + ROM 128 GB ROM/8GB RAM
Cameras 48MP primary camera (wide)
2MP macro camera
2MP depth sensor
Battery 5000 mAh

 

The phone comes in realme’s signature yellow box. No surprises there.

Taking out the lid, you’re greeted by a short note from the brand. Nice touch!

Going through the rest of the box, you’ll find your usual set of manuals, a charging cable, and your charging brick. Realme also included a case for free out of the box. Good stuff!

It makes a good first impression, but can it last?

Out of the box, the first thing you notice is how pretty the device is. Without touching it, you’d think it was made out of glass. But in reality, they used plastic for this device. The radiant light effect is definitely a nice touch.

Outside of the fingerprint smudges you’ll definitely be leaving on the back, you’d want to rock this phone without a case.

The realme 8 5G uses a curved back for added ergonomics. The phone is well-built, and it doesn’t feel cheap even if plastic was realme’s material of choice.

That extra feeling of sturdiness matters, especially in a competitive midrange market. First impressions can make or break whether you get a smartphone or not. In this case, realme passed with flying colors. Early indications suggest that realme has a winner with the 8 5G.

That’s all we have on realme’s newest midrange offering for now. We’ll be testing the device to see whether the realme 8 5G can truly #CaptureInfinitePossibilitiesWith5G.

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Huawei MatePad 2021 Unboxing and First Impressions

The device for people on the go!

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Huawei has updated its primary tablet the Huawei Matepad. Come and join me as we unbox the new Huawei MatePad 2021.

Unboxing

Starting off, we have the box. A clean and simple look, but definitely pleasing! The front of the box shows us the branding and the name of the device.

A Huawei logo on the upper left corner, the AppGallery on the lower right, and on the lower left, the screen size of the device.

The box also has an interesting texture, only on the top cover though.

Opening the box, we have the device itself wrapped in fine paper and a pull tab to assist you when lifting the device out of the box.

Underneath the device, you are presented with two boxes. One box for the charging brick…

and the second containing the paperwork, USB Type-C cable, a 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, and a warranty card.

Only the larger box is removable so be careful not to rip out the smaller box. Behind the larger box is the sim ejector tool, be sure to keep it safe!

Huawei MatePad

Removing the paper, we now see the simple but gorgeous Huawei MatePad in the “Midnight Grey” colorway. Be sure to remove the sticker — it’s optional but I suggest that you do.

The device itself is lightweight and easy to carry around, as a slim device it’s very easy to place it in a bag and you will have no problem carrying it around all day.

Starting off at the front, you will see the 10.4-inch screen with the camera at the top. Referring to the format at the back of the device, the front-facing camera is placed at the top.

On the left side of the device, you will be able to find the speakers along with the sleep/wake button. The right side shows you another pair of speakers and a charging port.

The top shows 4 microphones with the volume up and down button at the very left.

Heading over to the back you’ll be able to see the single-shooter camera, the Huawei branding, and an indication of their partnership with Harman/Kardon. The camera is accompanied by a flash and a microphone.

Specs

  • Display: 10.4-inch 2000×1200 IPS, 225 PPI
  • Processor: Huawei Kirin 820 series
  • Memory: RAM – 4GB, ROM – 128GB
  • Camera: 8MP front, 8MP rear
  • Battery: 7250mAh

Final thoughts

Finally, now we have unboxed the new Huawei MatePad. With this, the device itself feels good to the touch and is a good size for a tablet. Additionally, the “Midnight Grey” colorway of the MatePad is a great choice, it doesn’t collect fingerprints easily and the device is lightweight so you don’t have to worry when taking it with you anywhere.

The initial setup of the new MatePad was fast and easy, there are pre-loaded apps that are ready to use. Although I’m not sure if it’s just me or the apps change from time to time when you open the designated folders of the pre-loaded apps. For media consumption, the experience was good. Although the YouTube app was not the same as the ones we see on our devices, it works well as it should.

The screen looks good so far with the 2000×1200 IPS display, trying a few videos and films, the quality was great. Additionally, the speakers are a huge boost to the volume — loud but good quality. The MatePad also doesn’t have a 3m5mm headphone jack, luckily, they provided an adaptor. The MatePad is looking good so far, stay tuned for the next article as we are going deep and we’ll be having a full review of the Huawei MatePad 2021.

 

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Virtual Assistants reimagined as animé characters

Voice assistants no more!

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Virtual assistants

What if we gave a face to our favorite virtual assistants? That’s a question that sparked among us when Virtual Assistant Sam made the Internet go nuts.

After seeing people’s reception towards an animated assistant, we decided to commission Ange Salasiban, an artist based in the Philippines. Here, we reimagine how the popular voice assistants would look like.

Google Assistant

Not a girl, and not a robot. Google Assistant is giving us Janet’s vibes from the comedy show The Good Place. After all, Google decided to give it a gender-neutral name — and multiple voice options — to make them a personality that can serve depending on a user’s need.

In a way, we reimagine Google Assistant as a femme-presenting non-binary persona, albeit looking like a cis, blond woman, who’s knowledgeable and conversational, and isn’t defined nor limited by their gender to do certain tasks. It’s a much-needed representation in our society, slowly paving the way to encourage acceptance.

SEE ALSO: Google wants Samsung to favor Google Assistant over Bixby

Apple’s Siri

Apple’s Siri is sassy, sophisticated, and definitely a trendsetter. She most likely has a million followers and built a social media empire in her teens.

A celebrity-like persona, whatever Siri does encourages her cult-like community to follow her. Whether it’s dyeing her hair with an attention-grabbing color, sporting a new style to wear for Coachella, or even eating at a hip restaurant around Brooklyn. Although, she’s loud most of the time she talks and takes a lot of mirror selfies in every mirror she passes by.

She’s giving us major Leo vibes bordering between obnoxious and self-absorbed. But what made her cult-like community love her is her ability to connect and create a conversation. People just love it when they’re a part of a story, or if the lines of communication are open. And Siri is definitely a people person.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Siri listens to private conversations, sexual adventures

Amazon’s Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa, in our reimagination, is the resourceful friend we all have in our lives. You might’ve mistaken them as Virgo multiple times because of their ability to provide information exactly the way you needed it.

After all, Alexa is well-rounded and possesses a versatile set of skills. She’s analytical, methodical, and highly organized. She’s a reliable friend that you can trust when it comes to finding solutions, as long as she’s not busy cooking and cleaning her home filled with gadgets and smart appliances — that probably make her life better.

SEE ALSO: How Alexa wants to be your round-the-clock assistant

Microsoft’s Cortana

Miss Ma’am Cortana, step on us. Kidding aside, Cortana is that intimidating yet softie superior in your office. She’s smart, sexy, and talented that you might even question your sexuality.

She looks serious and determined most of the time, kinda like a Capricorn. Though ambitious and goal-oriented, Cortana knows how to bond with her team, sometimes bringing out dark humor due to her sardonic personality.

Nonetheless, Cortana knows how to get a job done, and knows how to simplify tasks without using too many resources. She’s the efficient team leader we all need.

SEE ALSO: Even Microsoft listens to your Skype and Cortana recordings 

Jang Yeong-sil

If you haven’t watched Start-Up, you need to rethink your life. The hit K-drama showcased Jang Yeong-sil as the superior voice assistant that enabled two-way communication for the blind through an app called NoonGil.

Though the show *spoiler alert* introduced a character in the final episode with the same voice as Jang Yeong-sil, that didn’t stop us from reimagining the virtual assistant into this hot, gorgeous guy sporting the latest Samsung devices.

He’s classy, sexy, sometimes cheeky, and definitely a looker but you won’t see him bragging about it. He can be a good friend or a chivalrous partner that you might want to introduce to your parents. Or even envision marrying him in the future.

SEE ALSO: GadgetMatch Reacts: Netflix’s Start-Up

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