Tutorials

How to make your own face masks at home

You can even present it to your friends and family

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Surgical face masks are in short supply today as medical workers use them to protect against infection from the coronavirus. As such, you will rarely find them in any pharmacies or medical equipment stores. What if you really need a face mask? Luckily, Brother, famous for their printers, has shared these steps to making your own face mask at home.

The face mask you’ll make with these steps is reusable daily. With these steps, you will no longer need to buy a surgical mask that every medical worker direly needs during these times.

You’ll need the following: some spare cloth, a printer, a sewing machine, and sewing tools. The cloth should be divided into two: an outer fabric and an inner fabric both measuring 20cm x 80cm.

After you’ve prepared the necessary equipment, you’re now ready to make your own face mask.

1. Sew the outer fabric together.

For the first step, you must cut two pieces of the outer fabric according to the pattern below. Place these two together right-side-in, then sew with an allowance of a centimeter. Iron-press both edges and do a topstitch. Reinforce the edges at the start and the end.

After sewing the outer fabric, you can put various designs into the mask. Be creative when putting the designs.

2. Do the same for the inner fabric.

Repeat what you did in the first step for the outer fabric. The inner fabric will ensure added protection from dust and other pollutants. And if you’re feeling creative, you can also design it too.

3. Sew the inner and outer fabric together.

Now, you’re ready to join the two pieces of fabric together. Place them together right-side-in carefully. Sew the top and bottom sides. Iron-press the edges and do a topstitch again. Turn the inner fabric right-side-out, then iron-press and do a topstitch.

4. Make the elastic band.

Sew the layer for the inner mask. Fold one of the edges three times and stitch to its sides. Do the same for the other side.

By now, you have a complete face mask. But how do you put them on your face? You’ll need an elastic band to hold the mask and keep it together. Assemble the elastic band first, then cut according to the measurements with a 3cm allowance. Insert the band to the edges of the mask. Finally, tie a knot to secure the bands in place.

5. Iron the mask to finish it.

You may want to post a picture of your own mask on Instagram or TikTok, so why not make it presentable? Ironing the mask removes the creases and makes it as good as a store-bought one.

6. Present it to the world.

Of course, creating your own mask is no small feat. Present it to your friends or family over Zoom or Skype. Tell them that you’ve learned a new skill at home. And above all else, don’t try to sell your creation to anyone — after all, most fabrics aren’t designed to filter out smaller particles that linger in the air.

If you didn’t catch any of the steps above, there’s a Youtube video as well that you can watch over and over again. For more resources on creating a face mask, visit Brother’s website.

Features

6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

Exercise caution during these times

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Your smartphone is capable of gathering and collecting personal information. As such, malicious hackers are always looking for ways to break into your phone to gain that valuable information. Meanwhile, big tech companies and governments are actively developing discrete methods of tracking you through your smartphone.

Thus, it is important to protect your smartphone’s privacy and security. However, it can be daunting to do that if you don’t know where to begin. With many privacy and security guidelines out there, it can be confusing where to look for protection.

Luckily, it’s easy to make your phone more private and secure. These tips are easy to do, and can be accomplished in an hour. Remember though, that the level of protection varies for different people.

These tips aren’t intended for the privacy paranoid. Instead, they act as tips on ensuring that you have the baseline privacy and security protection for your smartphone.

1. Change your device’s privacy settings

“It starts with you,” so the saying goes. The same tip also applies to making your device more private and secure. You have to start by changing your device’s setting.

Unfortunately for you, some default settings actually harm your device’s privacy and security. For example, your device may have analytics turned on by default — this violates privacy by sending data to third-party companies without your consent.

Changing the default privacy settings in iOS is simple and intuitive. All you need to do is to head over to the Settings app and scroll to the Privacy menu down below. Here, you’ll see a lot of things that you can change.

On the Android side, you’ll usually find the privacy settings for your device on the list of menus under your phone’s settings app. Like in iOS, you’ll see a lot of things that you can change to make your device more private.

These include limiting or opting out of ad personalization, turning off analytics, and changing notifications to display only the app name.

2. Review individual app permissions

Most apps that you use every day ask for permissions. These act as barriers that stop apps from mindlessly retrieving sensitive data.

Treat permissions as a powerful tool for safeguarding your privacy and security. Likewise, most permissions are important enough that you need to be more mindful of what apps you’re allowing and not allowing.

Common permissions include access to the camera, microphone, contacts, SMS, and location. There’s no exact rule to determining what permission should be allowed for an app.

However, as a general rule of thumb, know first the advertised function of a certain app. A calculator app shouldn’t ask for your microphone if, in the first place, it doesn’t tout voice input as a function.

For messaging apps, you’ll obviously need to allow contacts and SMS access. These apps will also need the camera and microphone access for video calling purposes.

Social media apps commonly require access to contacts, camera, and location. Meanwhile, utility apps should have minimum permissions from the get-go.

3. Use a VPN

You may have heard about someone using a VPN to unblock shows from Netflix or view restricted websites. Basically, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) routes your connection to multiple servers around the world. As such, you also end up with an IP address that hides your real location.

This is a huge deal especially for some websites or services that hide content depending on a user’s location. It’s also a boon for your privacy and security.

VPNs also protect your privacy by feeding false location information to most advertisers on the web. Most websites today have ads that track users wherever they go. Companies have sophisticated methods of tracking and building user profiles. This violates users’ privacy and security.

There are a lot of VPN services to choose from in this day and age. However, some VPN services actually leak sensitive information. On top of that, some of them have monthly data allocation and speed caps.

Some of the reputable VPN services out there include ProtonVPN, Private Internet Access, TunnelBear, and NordVPN. It’s also worth checking out Mullvad, SurfShark, and IPVanish.

Configuring VPNs is easy. You just have to follow the instructions given by your selected VPN provider.

4. Install messaging apps with encryption.

We use messaging apps to stay connected with our friends and families. However, not all messaging apps are built equally.

Some messaging apps don’t implement end-to-end encryption (E2E encryption), allowing malicious hackers and third-party companies to access your valuable information without your permission.

End-to-end encryption protects your valuable data by making your messages hard to read for hackers and companies. That means that even if a company that owns a messaging app gets hacked, they will only see random blobs of data instead of other people’s messages.

By now, most messaging apps in the market use end-to-end encryption. However, most apps only encrypt your data while in transit, which means that your message is safe while it travels across servers.

The messages that reside in your device aren’t encrypted at all, so hackers and companies can retrieve any information using sophisticated methods such as apps that harvest data in the background.

There are quite a good number of messaging apps that offer full E2E encryption. One of the most popular is Signal — a messaging app used by the famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. You only use a mobile number to create a Signal account, mitigating the need for emails and passwords. It also has quite an extensive list of features that even rival Facebook Messenger.

Other apps that offer full E2E encryption includes ThreeMa, WhatsApp, and Wire. Telegram and Viber also offer E2E encryption by default.

5. Consider using a secure browser

Chances are, the browser that you’re using today is Google Chrome. Many people use Chrome since its fast, simple, and just works.

However, it’s also one of the worst browsers to use for safeguarding personal privacy and security. After all, it is owned by Google. It’s common knowledge by now that Google thrives on a business that doesn’t totally safeguard your privacy and security.

There are other browsers out there that offer a better private browsing mode. Among them is Mozilla Firefox, which offers tracking prevention by default. Firefox’s tracking prevention blocks ads and other web elements that try to gather personal information as you browse the web.

Other browsers that have tracking prevention includes Microsoft Edge and Brave Browser. Safari also blocks trackers now, and you’ll see privacy reports in the future as part of macOS Big Sur.

You may have also heard of Tor Browser. Using Tor Browser is recommended if you want your browsing activity to be more private and secure. Keep in mind though, that browsing is much slower since it routes your network connection to different servers all around the world.

6. Store passwords with a password manager.

In this day and age, you should be using a password manager to manage your website logins. After using one, you’ll wonder why you haven’t used one sooner.

Password managers are convenient. Most of them feature one-click autofill which automatically fills in your username and password in the corresponding field. You’ll no longer have to enter your information manually. On top of that, you protect your privacy against snoopers.

Most password managers can also generate strong passwords for you. You don’t have to think about what unique word you’ll use when asked for a password.

More importantly, you no longer have to reuse an old password which just increases the chances of a hacker gaining access to your accounts. Some even have a password monitor feature, which alerts you if the password you used was retrieved by hackers.

Some of the best password managers out there include LastPass, Dashlane, and Bitwarden.

BONUS: Don’t give your personal info in an instant

This sounds simple but it’s something that we need to share with everyone. Especially our loved ones who don’t know better about giving out their personal information.

This not only applies in the digital world but also in the real world. After all, someone is bound to mishandle or abuse your personal data. The best course of action is to always ask if sensitive information is needed at all.

In digital terms, that means checking out an app or a website’s privacy policy for any mention of what data is needed to gain access to their service. However, privacy policies tend to get long, so we might be lazy enough to know why a piece of data is needed.

As a rule of thumb, always exercise caution when giving out personal information. If possible, limit any personal information to your name, email address, mobile number, and approximate location.

Making your device more secure and private doesn’t have to be tedious. These simple tips are easy enough to follow but will ensure a more private experience for you and your device.

These tips, however, only scratch the surface. Ensuring your device is private and secure is a proactive approach that requires one to be cautious of their data at all times.

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Apps

Jailbreaking made my iPhone fun and more usable

No, this isn’t illegal

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It’s been a month since the jailbreaking community got hyped over the latest jailbreak tool for iOS. At the same time, Apple’s iOS 14 announcement is just around the corner.

Jailbreaking was introduced way before the early releases of iOS through iPhone and iPod Touch. Coined from the word itself, jailbreaking is “breaking free” from the restrictions of iOS, Apple’s proprietary operating system.

This isn’t new to me. In fact, I was able to do it on my first ever iPhone 3Gs nearly seven years ago — back when I was just a high school student. As far as I can remember, it was risky yet successful.

Around that period, it’s when Apple announced a major design change through iOS 7. Unfortunately, devices older than the iPhone 4s are not supported. But with the power of jailbreaking, I was able to make my phone look like one. I even kept a single Instagram post as a remembrance.

Some of the iPhone users out there might not be contented with what iOS has to offer. And for someone (like me) who needs iOS services but wants to get more “Android-like” features, jailbreaking your iPhone is the closest answer.

Installation

This isn’t mainly a tutorial on how to jailbreak your iPhone. There’s a step-by-step installation video that helped me throughout the jailbreak process. Just make sure your phone is running iOS 13.5 or below. This method uses the unc0ver jailbreaking tool.

For devices running the patched iOS 13.5.1 or the latest iOS 13.5.5 Beta, you can still jailbreak your device through a different method with checkra1n‘s tool. If you have the latter version, watch this video instead.

Customization through jailbreak tweaks

If your iPhone shows Cydia on your home screen and runs without errors, it’s a sign that your iPhone is already jailbroken. If you’re not yet familiar, Cydia is the less intuitive (and cluttered) version of the App Store where you can find tons of tweaks that make your jailbroken iPhone magical.

Some jailbreak tools use Sileo as a substitute for Cydia with a refined UI. Only downside is that it still has incompatibilities in most tweaks.

By adding more repositories (or repos), you can gain more access to limited and exclusive tweaks that cannot be found through default tweak sources (such as BigBoss).

As most of these tweaks were made by several developers, most of them are free of charge. You should take note that advanced tweaks are paid.

Lock screen, Home Screen, and App Switcher

First thing you’ll notice is the different look of the lock screen. These are the tweaks I used:

  • Jellyfish is a tweak that completely overhauled my lock screen. It’s mostly compatible to music player tweaks. A free alternative would be April but it’s incompatible to other tweaks (which causes a crash then resprings into safe mode).
  • AOD allows you to add Always-On Display functionality in your OLED-powered iPhones (such as the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max).
  • Tap Tap Lock is a simple tweak that lets you lock your iPhone by double tapping anywhere on the home screen.
  • AutoUnlockX, from the word itself, it automatically unlocks your Face ID-powered iPhone without the hassle of swiping up. This is fast and convenient for users who are always in a hurry when unlocking their phones.

For years, iOS’ home screen has been stuck with a grid of app icons with the plain red notification badges. But with jailbreaking, customization is possible.

  • Velox Reloaded lets you transform home screen icons into widgets. This was rumored to be an iOS 14 feature but is possible through jailbreak.
  • dotto+ is a replacement tweak for iOS’ default notification badges. It adapts the color of the app’s icon and eliminates the notification count for a simpler appearance.
  • CastSwitcher is a tweak that replaces your old stacked card-style switcher into a grid, iPad-like switcher.
  • Dockify either lets your dock look transparent or hides the dock icons completely.

Other small tweaks you can install for your home screen:

  • AwesomePageDots makes those simple page dots more lively with the option to choose your preferred animation style.
  • HideLabels13 simply hides texts of apps on your home screen for a cleaner, minimalist look.
  • iconvibe adds haptic feedback whenever you open apps.
  • Manila is a simple tweak that reveals the apps found inside the folder through 3D/Force Touch menu.
  • No3DLines is a non-configurable tweak that hides lines whenever you activate 3D/Force Touch.

Notifications and Control Center

If some of you miss the bottom-style control center, Prysm brings back that nifty feature. Although it’s not a total rip-off of the iOS 10 control center, it still includes the rounded look of the latest Control Center in a less-cluttered order.

Other than the added power options (such as reboot, shutdown, respring, lock, and safe mode), it even displays the battery percentage of your Apple devices such as the AirPods and Apple Watch.

Other tweaks that are useful for Control Center:

  • RealCC lets you completely turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth toggles in Control Center.
  • CCModules adds more module options (and even app shortcuts) in your default iOS 13 control center.

And here’s a list of tweaks I installed that revamped my iPhone’s notification appearance:

  • Quart completely changes the overall look of your phone’s notifications. It has customizable rounded corners, header and content text sizes, and circular icons that go well with iOS 13’s rounded look.
  • ColorMeNotifs adds color to your notifications. Just like dotto+, it also adapts color based from the app’s icon.
  • NoDNDBanner is a tiny tweak that completely removes Do Not Disturb banner when activated.
  • PencilChargingIndicator replaces your old charging icon in favor of the Apple Pencil-like charging banner alert.
  • AirPods Case Low Battery is convenient if you carry an AirPods or AirPods Pro with you. It lets you prompt whenever the case is below the charged level.
  • Scorpion replaces the full call window into a less intrusive banner. You can now accept or decline calls without blocking what’s currently on your screen.
  • SilentRecorder hides the annoying red status on the time bar when the screen is recording.

Settings

Three tweaks are responsible for the changed look of the top and bottom bar:

  • noNotch completely hides the notch through a black bar and makes the app windows rounded. It gives the illusion of an iPhone without a notch.
  • DigitalBattery13 replaces the battery icon with a battery percentage symbol.
  • Saw maximizes the look of your app screen by removing the home bar and the bottom padding altogether.

For settings, here are two important tweaks:

  • shuffle categorizes setting list based on where they belong. Originally, the settings and tweaks list are both cluttered.
  • ModernSettings adds a visual graphic of your phone’s battery and storage information as well as basic details of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and even the phone itself.

There are also optional tweaks you can install to configure reachability:

  • Carbonite adds quick toggles whenever you activate reachability.
  • StayDown lets reachability stay as it is without coming back from its original position.

Apps

For music apps such as Apple Music and Spotify, these tweaks are helpful enough to make your playback more appealing:

  • StatusViz adds a little visualizer at the upper left corner of the screen whenever you play music — which replaces the time status.
  • ColorFlow 5 beautifies your music player by adapting the color of the album art as the background (instead of white).

For the camera app, here are tweaks that can imitate the look of iPhone 11 series’ camera UI on older devices:

  • Camera Features lets you change the camera layout of your old iPhones. It brings the exclusive camera UI of the iPhone 11 series — including the zoom slider, QuickTake, and the ability to tap and change video resolution and frame rate in video mode. Other than that, you also have the option to choose an iPad-style camera UI plus show/hide certain camera elements and modes.
  • PortraitXI is a tweak that lets you take portrait mode shots even if your iPhone only has a single lens.
  • Enlighten brightens most of shots taken in low-light. However, this isn’t a complete imitation of the Night Mode found on the iPhone 11 series.

For security, BioProtect XS is a helpful paid tweak that uses Face ID (or Touch ID on older devices) to lock specific apps — including system apps such as messages, photos, videos, Safari and more.

  • Safari Features completely enhances your Safari experience by adding a tab bar and even show a 2×2 grid switcher.
  • SmallSiri shows Siri through a small banner, instead of the usual full window prompt.
  • InstagramPlus is a handy paid tweak that lets you control your Instagram completely. Features include saving photos, videos on feed and through IG stories, follow status, anonymously see stories of other people, and the inclusion of Instagram Music even if your region isn’t supported.

Keyboard

The default keyboard in iOS is intuitive yet lacks certain features that make it stand out. Here are some tweaks to maximize your typing experience.

  • BarMoji lets you add your frequently used emojis at the bottom of the keyboard between the global keyboard switch and voice control icons.
  • Dark Keys enables a system-wide dark keyboard, which goes well if you’re in Dark Mode. Default iOS Dark Mode doesn’t darken the keyboard.
  • RealKeys adds a haptic (or taptic) feedback whenever you type. This makes typing more tactile and responsive.
  • AnyKeyTrackpad lets you swipe over texts and words by pressing any key on the keyboard. It’s not limited to the spacebar anymore.
  • DeleteCut is a helpful keyboard tweak that deletes words faster. Just click the shift key and it will delete multiple words instead of characters one by one.
  • For people who use different keyboards, Keyboard Accio is a tool that lets you switch between your first two input methods. Don’t worry, long press still works for other keyboard input.
  • MenuSupport replaces the text-heavy menu into a menu of icons when editing texts.
  • Finally, CopyLog is a wonderful tweak that lets you save all your copy-pasted texts (or paragraphs) through a snippet log.

Stability

Some tweaks may not run properly due to certain iOS and jailbreak version limitations or overlapping and incompatible tweaks installed. You can still prevent this from happening, use these utility tweaks:

  • FlyJB lets you bypass certain apps that detect jailbreak status. In that way, you can continue using your apps you need (such as Snapchat, McDonald’s, Pokémon Go) without worrying about complete removal of the jailbreak. Another similar tweaks are KernBypass and Unsub.
  • Flame is a specified tweak for Cydia which enables the user to batch add repos and auto resprings/reboots after a tweak download.
  • ReProvision is a tweaked app that prompts you to sign your jailbreak utility apps three days before they get revoked. This is helpful just in case you forgot to re-sign your jailbreak app or else, you’ll do the tedious process again from the beginning.
  • KeepMyJB removes the software update setting on Settings. Automatic updates won’t install, keeping your jailbreak alive and kicking.
  • iCleaner Pro lets you delete temporary files and tweak settings. These settings usually remain even after tweak uninstallation from Cydia.
  • Cr4shed is another tweak that lists and reports any app or task that caused a UI crash. This is helpful if ever one of your installed tweaks always gives your iPhone an error before it resprings into Safe Mode.

Misconception

Some users might think that jailbreak could “unlock” their factory-locked iPhones. In that case, jailbreaking isn’t the solution. If that’s what you’re after, you should bring your iPhone to a technician to get it unlocked.

Other accessible methods are the use of GPP sim chips that “partially” unlocks sim-locked iPhones from countries like US and Japan.

Legality

Although some countries might have certain laws and restrictions when it comes to Digital Rights Management (DRM), jailbreaking in most countries isn’t illegal. Jailbreaking may void your device if it’s still under warranty but rest assured that there are methods to unjailbreak your phone and bring iOS back to its default state through iOS restore.

Community

Don’t limit yourself from the tweaks I’ve listed. There are a lot of jailbreak tweaks from various repos and developers. There are a lot of jailbreak tweak videos on YouTube from different YouTubers and jailbreakers.

Other than that, you can also join this reddit community where they mostly talk about iOS jailbreaking.

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Computers

How to choose the right monitor

According to Dell

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Monitors are an essential tool for effective work from home. They can improve workflow and boost productivity. With companies pivoting to remote work arrangements, it is critical for business continuity to provide employees with the best equipment that will help ensure their continued productivity.

Creating an environment optimized for telecommuting is more than just a laptop and an Internet connection at home. Those who are in the finance, design, programming, or engineering industries, need a good monitor to make teleworking work for them.

Now, Dell shares its top six tips for selecting the right monitor for remote work:

1. Screen Size and Resolution

Resolution and screen size go hand-in-hand. A larger monitor typically requires a higher resolution. More pixels in each square inch of the display means users will get sharper images. A 27-inch QHD (2560 x 1440), 32-inch 4K (3840 x 2160) or 34-inch WQHD (3440 x 1440) displays are the recommended size and resolution with more than 100 pixels per inch.

Determining the right screen size and resolution is an important first step. Having more screen space has a direct correlation to increased productivity. The typical screen size for most office work is between 24 and 32 inches.

If bigger and wider screen space is a priority, it may be necessary to have more than one monitor, or one ultrawide curved monitor, which is commonly between 34 to 49 inches. Monitors with ultra-thin bezels are ideal for creating seamless multi-monitor configurations, resulting in less distraction.

Financial service workers, software developers, and data scientists typically benefit from one large screen space (43 to 49 inches) to view large amounts of data in their workspace. They often appreciate monitors that can connect and display content from multiple PCs.

2. Ergonomics and wellbeing

Remote work employees tend to work longer, so having the right equipment for wellbeing is crucial. In one research, 92% of workers believe ergonomically optimized monitors are critically important for improving their productivity.

Squinting at a screen or slouching over the monitor can lead to poor posture, back issues, and eye strain. To help with these issues, it is important to choose a versatile monitor with height and tilt adjustability to ensure correct posture and viewing alignment.

Like other electronic devices, monitors emit low blue light that can tire the eyes over extended periods of viewing time. Choose monitors with low blue light and flicker-free technology to minimize blue light emission and flickering images.

3. Connectivity

It is important to consider devices that will be connected to the monitor as well as check laptop ports for compatibility. Common ports on laptops today include HDMI, USB-C, and Thunderbolt 3.

Opt for a clean desk setup with a USB-C monitor. This can help reduce cable clutter. Plus, it allows users to charge their laptop and transfer data with a single cable.

In addition, other essential accessories will need multiple USB ports. Dell monitors typically provide four USB ports, making it possible to connect to more devices.

4. Energy efficiency

Like other home appliances, energy efficiency is important. Monitors that are certified for reduced energy consumption like Energy Star or EPEAT can save up to USD 52 in annual utility bills.

Advanced monitors may also offer features that reduce power consumption by putting the monitor to sleep after a period of inactivity.

5. Color

Professionals in the creative industry like photography and videography should consider color coverage, accuracy, and calibration when purchasing a monitor.

A monitor that is compatible with an external colorimeter or has one that is already built-in is best for quick and easy calibration. Choosing a monitor with DCI-P3 above 95% coverage with factory calibration will help with color-critical tasks.

6. Collaboration

Monitors that include a built-in camera, microphone, and speakers are growing in popularity with the increased frequency of video conferencing calls.

If you’re on video calls for the majority of the workday, look for a monitor that includes these collaborative features to ensure that participants can hear and see you clearly.

Have the right monitor for a successful remote work

With more organizations offering flexible working arrangements, selecting the right monitor at home is crucial from a productivity standpoint.

Users should consider future-proofing their monitor investments with larger screen sizes, higher resolutions, and better connectivity.

Investing in the right monitors for a more comfortable working environment at home will reap returns in the long run in terms of overall health and work productivity.

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