Tips and Tools to Help Students with Effective Self Learning
Flipped learning is an increasingly popular classroom model offering student centered, interactive learning, aided by technology. Following the flipped learning model, students prepare for a class by studying pre-class homework, then spend class time actively engaged in a wide variety of learning activities.
Effective self learning outside of the traditional classroom environment is an integral part of the flipped classroom model of blended learning. In this article, we will share a range of tips to help students make the most of self directed learning. These tips will cover how to use Microsoft and Acer tools, as well as offering some general pointers for creating a self supervised learning environment that is conducive to effective study.
How does the flipped classroom work?
Regardless of the level, from elementary to university, a flipped class does as it says, and literally flips the traditional class structure of the teacher giving a lecture and example problems in class, followed by students completing problem sets for homework. Active pre-class reading and research materials such as online videos, lectures, and discussions maximize learner engagement during class.
Independent learning before the class creates a learner centered model by introducing topics to the students at home. In the flipped classroom, increased contact time spent in class can be used to explore topics in greater depth, through project based learning, and concept practice.
The key benefit of the flipped classroom is that the student is essentially having the lesson/lecture at home before the class, allowing more in-class time for teacher-student contact. Flipped classrooms have proven beneficial to learners, with active learning helping students to understand complex concepts, while developing valuable intrapersonal skills.
Making the most of pre-class homework time
Evidently, learners need to put in the prep hours before class so that they know what is going on when they step into the classroom. Thankfully there are ways to ensure that independent study space and habits are helping, not hindering students’ education.
Firstly, try to stick to the study schedule suggested by your teachers. If they expect 60 minutes of prep before a class, make sure that you have reserved that time to study. Ensure that you have a quiet space with a suitable table and chair where you can study without interruption from family, friends, or pets.
In an ideal world there would be a designated desk where you are able to amply prepare before class. If you need music to study, concentration music for work is a good idea and one that we will return to later, but lay off any tunes that may distract you. Speaking of distractions, during your allotted study time, put your phone on silent and make sure that it is out of arm's reach, not sitting on your desk, distracting you.
What is the Pomodoro Technique, and how will it help you to focus?
This time management method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s and uses a simple kitchen timer to help you overcome procrastination (putting things off). In fact, the Pomodoro Technique is a highly effective way to manage your time: focus on a task for 25 minutes then take a 5 minute break. The good news is, you (probably) won’t have to cook any tomatoes while studying and you don’t need a kitchen timer.
Windows 11 has a handy focus feature, essentially a built-in Pomodoro timer called a focus session to help you block out distractions while you study. When you start a focus session, a few things will happen:
* A focus timer will appear on your screen
* Do not disturb will turn on
* Apps in the taskbar won’t flash to alert you
* Badge notifications on apps in the taskbar will turn off
So, how can the focus feature help students in the flipped classroom?
1) Before class
Students can use the focus session feature to watch the video lectures assigned by their teachers. They can set a timer for the duration of the video, connect their Spotify account to listen, and select the task from their Microsoft To Do list.
To minimize distractions and stay on track with your learning goals, there are three ways to start focus on Windows 11:
* From notification center: select notification center in the taskbar. Choose the length of your focus session. Select Focus to start your session.
* From Settings: Select Start > Settings > System > Focus > Start focus session.
* From the Clock app: Select Start > All apps > Clock. In the clock app, select Start focus session.
Focus works with the Clock app, allowing you to play music and see tasks from Microsoft To Do. When starting a session, a focus timer will appear on your screen. To access additional focus tools in the Clock app, expand the focus timer. Let’s not forget the tunes, link your Spotify account to the Clock app and your music will play when you begin a focus session:
* Select Start > All apps > Clock.
* In the Clock app, select Link your Spotify. Sign in with your Spotify account. Select the playlist you want to listen to.
2) During class
Students can use the focus session feature to work on homework or projects in class. They can set a timer for a suitable amount of time, and work on a specific task from their Microsoft To Do list. After the focus session ends, they can take a short break and then start another focus session. This way, they can apply the Pomodoro Technique to divide their work into manageable chunks, improving their productivity and efficiency.
3) After class
Students can use the focus session feature to review what they have learned or prepare for exams. They can set a timer for a suitable amount of time, and work on a revision task from their Microsoft To Do list. They can also connect their Spotify account to listen to some music that enhances their memory or relaxation. After the timer is up, they can take a longer break and then start another focus session. This way, they can use spaced repetition to reinforce their learning and retention.
Before we move on to cover how Microsoft To Do can help your independent studies in more detail, it should be noted that your task list can be integrated into the Clock app. This will enable you to choose the tasks you want to to work on in each focus session.
To do, or not to do, is not an option with Microsoft To Do
If you have to do lists plastered over your wall, that’s cool, but try Microsoft To Do. This cloud-based task management application can be easily integrated with the focus session widget in the Clock app. For a more streamlined approach to organizing your day, and staying on top of everything, integrate the two:
* Start a focus session from the notification center, the Settings app, or the Clock app
* In the focus session widget, click on the Tasks icon on the right side of the screen
* Sign in with your Microsoft account and grant permission to access your Microsoft To Do tasks
* Select the task you would like to work on during your focus session and Check it off once it is done
* You can also add new tasks, edit existing tasks, or switch between different lists from the focus session widget
Take a break
Following the Pomodoro Technique, it is important to take regular breaks in order to stay focussed. It is equally important to encourage students to practice healthy computer habits from an early age and avoid getting into bad habits, including sitting for too long, straining, and getting too close to your computer. Often, students are so engrossed in their work that they sit too close to their screen for too long. This can impact eye health. Thankfully, Acer User Sensing software has some helpful features to help students avoid bad habits: a break reminder, and a screen distance reminder. These added features can help students to establish healthy computer habits from an early age. Acer TravelMate B3 11, B3 Spin 11, and B5 14 all come with Acer User Sensing software to remind users to take regular breaks in order to stay healthy!
Microsoft, Acer, and the flipped classroom
We hope that this article has been informative and that you managed to stay focused until now. Self learning requires self discipline, strategy, and the correct tools to stay on track with your study goals. The Clock app in Windows 11, along with Microsoft To Do, Acer break reminder, and Acer Screen Distance Reminder combine to help learners effectively organize their time and have productive independent study sessions. Through correct use of these tools, and energized by regular breaks, students can benefit from self learning time, effectively preparing relevant materials before class.
How 'Flipped Classrooms' Empower Students to Thrive
Thinking back to our school days, most of us were taught in a classroom environment and completed homework at home. Discussions were encouraged within the classroom and prepared us for independent studying in our own time. Flipped classrooms are a type of blended learning in which the traditional learning approach is literally flipped around. Students receive class content at home through pre-recorded videos and then attend school for further practice and questioning. In other words, students receive and preview the content at home and complete extended learning in the classroom.
Global education systems went through a severe shakeup during the Covid-19 pandemic. Once travel restrictions were implemented and country-wide lockdowns announced, children could no longer physically attend school, and teachers scrambled to grasp the world of online learning. Although flipped learning was introduced in 2007 by chemistry teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, it was helpful in soothing the educational crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite initial teething problems, many children thrived in an online learning environment. Even after the pandemic ended and in-person classes restarted, 60% of parents with K12 children would consider continuing home-learning. Despite the post-pandemic new normal, online learning and flipped classrooms remain a vital part of today’s education system.
What is a flipped classroom?
Besides flipping the emphasis of the traditional learning style from in-class to at-home, a flipped classroom model incorporates the following four pillars of learning.
* Flexible environment: educators are known for their fast-thinking and flexible attitude to classroom learning. The flexibility of a flipped classroom accommodates a range of learning styles and integrates video and online learning tools into the traditional education approach.
* Learning culture: flipped learning challenges the traditional style of making the teacher the main source of information and encourages independent learning instead. The teacher’s role is to facilitate learning rather than simply delivering instructions. As such, the learner becomes the focal point, and class time is restructured to create a more in-depth learning opportunity for students.
* Intentional content: materials and lesson content are intentionally split between what should be taught in class and what students should study at home. Time-strapped teachers can choose which information to deliver in person and allow students to conduct tasks that require more repetition or in-depth research at home.
* Professional educator: teachers adopt a less prevalent role in flipped classrooms, but their presence and guidance are still important. Without them, traditional or flipped learning cannot occur. Professional educators know their students best and can gauge which tasks are suitable for learning at home or in class.
How do students in Grades 12 and below benefit from Flipped Classrooms?
Flipped classrooms connect the dots between online and physical learning. Teachers may initially believe the most important part of flipped learning is motivating students to learn from home, however valuable class time is designed to encourage a higher understanding of materials. This learning style may seem unfamiliar at first, but there are many benefits to a flipped learning style.
1. Encourage a learner-centered approach
In movies, on TV, and even in our own lives, we are used to seeing teachers as the classroom’s main event. Traditional roles are reversed in a flipped classroom, and students are at the forefront of a learner-centered approach. With flipped learning, students are no longer seen and not heard, as they take an active role in their studies. Rather than seeing homework as a chore, students take responsibility for their classwork at home, which prepares them to manage their schedules in the working world.
2. Increase student engagement and learning
Instead of overloading students with information during a short class, flipped classrooms encourage learners to watch online videos and pre-learn at home. Students then come to class with prior knowledge of the topics and can ask structured questions, work on live problems, and partake in constructive discussions with classmates and teachers. This prior understanding helps students stay engaged throughout classes and empowers shy or less-confident students to contribute their ideas. Flipped classrooms encourage independent learning and critical thinking, helping young learners prepare for their life beyond school.
3. Create happier teachers
Teachers enter the profession to do what they love — inspire the future generation through education. However, many teachers are under immense pressure to deliver high education standards within a limited time. In traditional classroom settings, teachers may not always get enough time to cover all of the syllabus details and work before the bell rings, leaving students to take unfinished work home as homework. Although some initial preparation work is required, a flipped learning approach takes the pressure off teachers and allows students to conduct in-depth research and learning at home before attending class. Happier teachers create a stress-free learning environment and more inspired students as a result.
Which tools enhance flipped learning?
Flipped learning relies on collaboration tools to facilitate online learning. These team collaboration tools connect students while allowing them to access their school work via handy communication apps. They also hold educational videos and lectures that form the basis of class discussions. Microsoft Teams and the Learning Accelerator are examples of platforms intended to enhance flipped learning.
How to use Microsoft Teams for flipped learning
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform packed full of features for flipped learning. In conjunction with Acer laptops, the outstanding system delivers seamless communication to students and teachers and is free for those with a valid email address. Microsoft Teams collaboration tools are trusted by over 270 thousand educational organizations worldwide. Here is how they can improve the flipped learning experience for your school, too.
1. Chat function
The integrated chat function allows students to communicate with classmates and teachers and ensures they are always up to date with the latest information. Students can use the feature to discuss class presentations, group activities, and solve problems. The chat function also supports GIFs, emojis, stickers, and polls to enhance engagement and ensure a happier learning environment.
Smooth communication is the key to successful flipped learning. The Calls feature from Microsoft Tools allows students to make audio or video calls for a more active learning experience. Students are encouraged to use screen sharing, whiteboard, and live captions to support the calls. Students should use a laptop with a good HD webcam, microphone, and speaker to ensure clear communication during learning.
The handy Meetings feature enables students to arrange and join online meetings with classmates and teachers. They can attend live class discussions or meet privately with peers to work on group projects. In addition, students can enter breakout rooms, raise their hands, or send reactions and feedback to actively participate in meetings.
One of the most crucial features for those working or studying from home is the option to share files. The Files feature from Microsoft Teams lets students access and share documents with classmates and teachers, facilitating group work and ensuring they never miss a deadline. Students can also use the OneDrive integration platform to sync files across devices and even access them offline.
The Apps feature allows users to add and use apps within Microsoft Teams to enhance their learning experience. These Apps include Kahoot! to create and join quizzes, or Flipgrid to design and share class-related videos. Moreover, students can take notes during classes and organize their work using the OneNote app.
How to use Learning Accelerators for flipped learning
If you have used Microsoft Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, or Word, you have probably already used Learning Accelerators without even knowing. Learning Accelerators allow teachers to develop personalized learning paths for students. These learning paths may include content from popular sources like YouTube, Khan Academy, and Ted-Ed. Learning Accelerators also track students’ performance and provide constructive feedback. Here are some additional features offered by Learning Accelerators.
1. Reading Coach
The Reading Coach tool helps students practice reading using specialized exercises. Integrated reading exercises give gentle guidance through pronunciation, syllabification, reading speed, and vocabulary retention, which help students become more confident in their reading skills. The Reading Coach supports and encourages students with various learning differences, boosting literary confidence and helping them to overcome shyness.
2. Reading Progress
Learning Accelerators accumulate unique data and insight analytics to help teachers track students’ progress. Students can use the Reading Progress tool to track their reading skills and receive actionable insights. This helps readers focus on specific areas for improvement, giving targeted advice rather than a blanket approach. The Reading Progress tool streamlines the creation of the reading assignment and the review and analysis process to support students in their reading journey.
3. Search Coach
Putting queries into words is tough, but the Search Coach is here to help. The Search Coach tool teaches students how to form effective search engine prompts to find required information. After entering the prompt, NewsGuard finds trusted sites without displaying distracting or inappropriate advertisements or pop-ups. This steers students away from false or misleading information and provides high-quality data. As just 10% of K-12 students can accurately differentiate fact from opinion, it is vital they acquire information from trustworthy sources. Moreover, developing skills to find information quickly and accurately will help students in their future careers.
4. Search Progress
The Search Progress tool is integrated into the Search Coach and monitors the development of students’ literacy skills by providing insights into their search activity and behaviors. Moreover, the tool identifies ways to refine their search prompts over time, which helps students refine their queries and acquire targeted information. Search Progress also allows teachers to understand the thought processes behind students’ research by providing a detailed search history.
5. Speaker Coach
Public speaking can be overwhelming, but it can also be enjoyable with practice and the right mentor. Luckily, the Speaker Coach tool is created to do just that. Real-time coaching helps students improve their presentation skills by rounding up and evaluating key presentation points. The intelligent Coach even gives personalized feedback on areas such as pitch, pace, and the use of filler words without the pressure of performing for an audience.
6. Speaker Progress
This new tool streamlines the process of creating, reviewing, and analyzing speaking and presentation assignments. Teachers and students can view a summary of positive feedback and areas for improvement. Moreover, teachers can conveniently review students’ recordings and track progress, saving them time and effort.
7. Microsoft Reflect
The well-being of students is paramount to a safe and productive learning environment. Feeling sad, overwhelmed, or a mix of unidentifiable emotions can hurt students’ learning progress, and these feelings must be identified and addressed appropriately. The Reflect tool allows students to identify and express their feelings safely and creatively while teaching them how to communicate and navigate difficult emotions. The Feelings Monster assists in finding the right words to describe feelings and helps students recognize and communicate them before becoming overwhelmed.
Acer devices for flipped learning
Schools should equip students with high-performance technology to get the most out of flipped learning. Acer’s integrated device features deliver an engaging learning experience for students. High-quality audio effects facilitate crystal-clear calls, while upward-facing speakers provide higher-quality audio at high volumes, facilitating smooth communication. Moreover, dual microphones capture voices and make it easier for students to understand each other. This boosts the effectiveness of group discussions and is useful when multiple people speak at once.
Temporal Noise Reduction (TNR) technology improves the quality of webcam images by sensing and reducing noisy pixels and is perfect for use in low-light conditions. However, using webcams can mean students are susceptible to hackers or cybercriminals. As student safety is crucial in class and beyond, Acer has installed a camera shutter to ensure privacy even when the webcam is not being used. Alongside these features, the TravelMate B5 14 from Acer also comes with a 14” screen, for more comfortable viewing, which is perfect for student life. Combining low power consumption with high performance, the device supports nine hours of battery life to ensure students make it through a full day of classes.
Flipped classrooms bring students to the center of the learning experience. Students are expected to take an active role in their learning by conducting independent research and studying before class time. This pre-learning arms students with an overview of topics and allows them to repeat facts or words as often as needed. Students are given a range of online learning tools such as videos or presentations to strengthen their understanding. Once in the classroom, teachers will analyze their students’ comprehension by organizing presentations or group work. Microsoft Teams is the perfect flipped classroom assistant, providing coaching guidance and tailored reading help to boost students’ skills and accelerate learning. Of course, learning on a high-performance device such as an Acer TravelMate laptop will deliver an outstanding experience with enhanced audio and video quality, while keeping students safe from cybercriminals.
Acer Swift Edge 16 (2023) Review: The Edge You’ve Been Waiting For
The Acer Swift Edge 16 is a sleek and thin yet powerful laptop that boasts a large 16-inch OLED display and AMD Ryzen 7040 “Phoenix” Series processors, AMD’s new lineup of mobile chips that feature a dedicated AI engine. As Acer’s latest offering in the realm of ultrathin laptops, it is designed to provide a seamless blend of performance and portability. If you’re an on-the-go professional, photographer, or tech-savvy consumer, you can’t go wrong with how much punch the Swift Edge 16 packs into its light frame. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at its standout features:
* 16-inch, 3200 x 2000 OLED display, 120Hz
* AMD Ryzen 7 7840U with AMD Radeon 780M graphics
* 32 GB LPDDR5 RAM
* 2 TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
* 1.23 kg (2.71 pounds)
* 357.5 x 245.9 x 12.95 mm (14.07 x 9.68 x 0.5 inches)
* Two USB Type-C (USB 4 40Gbps, USB charging 5V), two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, HDMI 2.1, MicroSD slot, headphone jack
* 1440p QHD webcam
* Wi-Fi 7 powered by Qualcomm FastConnect 7800
* Olivine Black
A Visually Delightful OLED Display
One of the key highlights of the Swift Edge 16 is its stunning 16-inch 3.2K OLED display, which looks great whether you’re browsing, working, or binging your favorite shows. Acer Swift OLED panels can display over a billion colors, offering deep blacks as low as 0.0005 nits and a peak brightness of 500 nits. They cover 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is the standard color space used in the digital cinema industry for precise color grading of content—and have received Eyesafe certification ensuring better protection for your eyes by reducing harmful blue light. On top of that, if you enjoy some light gaming on the side, the 120Hz refresh rate (coupled with AMD RDNA 3 integrated graphics) helps to achieve those coveted smooth and responsive frames.
Freedom to Unplug
Designed with mobility in mind, the Swift Edge 16 features a well-constructed magnesium-aluminum body that can be easily opened with just one hand, adding a convenient quality-of-life feature to the device. Its ultrathin profile of only 12.95 mm and lightweight chassis weighing just 1.23 kg makes it incredibly portable. While you're on the go and need the freedom to unplug for longer stretches, it offers the flexibility to be productive while traveling, working, or just taking a break. This is made possible by AMD's Zen 4 architecture, which optimizes the CPU’s power consumption for extended periods of unplugged use.
Unleashing the Power of AI
While we’re on the subject of the CPU, aside from delivering exceptional performance, the new Ryzen 7040 Series mobile processors from AMD also feature a dedicated AI engine dubbed Ryzen AI. With AI coming to the fore in 2023 as a mega-trend, it allows for better AI hardware integration into the CPU, for more powerful AI experiences while freeing up the processor for other workloads. In other words, it helps to ensure fast and efficient computing without compromising on tasks that rely on AI. With the way AI has influenced the world of tech lately, it should be a handy addition for the future.
Wi-Fi 7 and Windows Studio Effects
As one of the first laptops to feature Wi-Fi 7 and Qualcomm’s FastConnect 7800, the Swift Edge 16 ensures that you stay connected and productive, even in demanding networking environments. This means enhanced speeds of up to 5.8 Gbps and ultra-low latency of under 2 ms—along with what Qualcomm calls High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link technology, a feature that optimizes connection on 5 and 6 GHz bands, for a more reliable and seamless wireless connection.
This makes for an amazing video calling experience on the 1440p QHD webcam featuring Windows Studio Effects, which is a set of features that utilizes Ryzen AI to enhance your experience while video calling with effects such as auto-framing, gaze correction, and advanced background blur.
Equipped with the Microsoft Pluton security processor, the Swift Edge 16 enjoys extra protection against potential cyber threats. If you haven’t heard of the technology, it offers improved hardware security by guarding sensitive data like encryption keys, credentials, and user identities by isolating them from the rest of the system. Having this added layer of security means you have one less thing to worry about while on the go.
It's All in the Details
Despite its thin and light design, the Swift Edge 16 doesn't compromise on usability, featuring a full-sized backlit keyboard (with number pad) that feels firm and responsive while typing. It also has two Type-C USB 4 Ports, HDMI 2.1, a MicroSD slot, two standard USB-A ports and for you audiophiles out there, the good old headphone jack.
The Swift Edge 16 lives up to its promise of providing an edge where performance meets portability. With its stunning OLED display, powerful hardware, and intelligent features, it caters to the needs of modern professionals and tech enthusiasts on the go. Whether you're a content creator, a hybrid worker, or someone who values mobility without compromising on power, the Swift Edge 16 is a worthy companion.
Z-Library Domains Seized Again by FBI
Z-Library, the shadow library project that provided access to millions of textbooks, novels, journal articles, and magazines was shut down in November 2022 when U.S. authorities seized a number of the organization’s domain names. Despite the efforts of law enforcement, the project never fully went away. Z-Lib even staged an official comeback in early 2023 by working around the previous domain name issues. However, the project has been disrupted again by further FBI domain seizures.
Z-Library domains seized
The Z-Library site was taken down in late 2022 after it had become too popular for its own good. Earlier in the year, a Tiktok group had caused the hashtag “#zlibrary” to trend, with the hashtag eventually garnering more than 19 million views and drawing massive publicity to the site. However, law enforcement activities had in fact already been well underway prior to the #zlibrary hashtag going viral, with the Authors Guild and other copyright protection advocacy groups working together to shut down the service.
Approximately 200 domain names associated with Z-Library were seized on November 4, 2022, by the U.S. Department of Justice. Around the same time, Russian nationals Anton Napolsky (33) and Valeriia Ermakova (27) were arrested in Argentina on suspicion of running the Z-Library site, and the pair were charged with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud, and money laundering.
Work-arounds Z-Library used to open up again
Although access to the Z-Library project was made more difficult with the shutdown of its public domains, the site continued to exist on the darkweb through the encrypted Tor and I2P networks, offering millions of pirated articles and books. For users skilled in using Tor for Z-Library or who knew how to access Z-Library via I2P, accessing content was almost as easy as before.
Additionally, in mid-February 2023, Z-Library officially staged a comeback on the public-access Internet by launching secret personal domains for users that are accessible via a universal login page.
Website administrators often take steps with their operations to mitigate disruption caused by domain name seizures. A common method is to have a list of backup domains that can be deployed when needed; this approach is known as a hydra setup. Z-Library has utilized a hydra-inspired scheme to get their website back up and running on clearnet, so that users unfamiliar with the darkweb can easily regain access to its content. The scheme involves offering a unique and private domain name to each and every user.
To access their unique domain names, users were instructed in a blog post to visit singlelogin.me, where they were able to log in to their account (with their existing Z-Library login) or create a new account and then be redirected to their personal domain. Users were requested to keep their unique personal domain names private, to ensure the domains would not be immediately seized by law enforcement.
The domain names in question are subdomains of newly registered TLDs (top-level domains; i.e., acer.com and bing.com) that each rely on different domain name registries. Each user is given two personal domains, and these are listed on each user’s personal profile page.
Z-Library domains seized again
In May of this year, several of the new domains of Z-Library were seized by U.S. authorities:
“Unfortunately, one of our primary login domains was seized today,” Z-Library wrote in a message on its Telegram account on May 5. “Therefore, we recommend using the domain singlelogin.re to log in to your account and register. Please share this domain with others.” The domain name they were referring to was singlelogin.me, which now displays an enforcement message from the U.S. Justice Department and FBI.
This marks the second time within a year that Z-Library has had its domains taken over. However, the total number of new domain names that Z-Library controls is unclear, and what we may be witnessing is a high-stakes game of whack-a-mole.
Impact of the Z-Library shutdowns
Hundreds of users welcomed the site’s return in early 2023, with people posting enthusiastic comments on Z-Library’s blog.
Scholars, researchers, and students—most of whom are financially disadvantaged—use the shadow library to obtain free books and journal articles. According to Z-Library itself, college students and professors of universities worldwide comprise the largest group of users of the service. These users are typically located in developing countries and are usually unable to afford access to all of the thousands of journals that exist. For these users, Z-Library is a lifeline to global knowledge that is crucial to completing their degrees and furthering their research.
Several Z-Library alternatives exist that offer similar features and services, such as free ebooks, audiobooks, articles, and more. We listed five sites in our previous article on Z-Library, and here are a few more worth checking out:
* Sci-hub: Sci-Hub has been estimated to contain 95% of all scholarly publications with issued DOI numbers. Sci-Hub reported in 2022 that its collection comprises 88,343,822 files.
* Library Genesis: Countless ebooks and articles are available on LibGen, which was the original source of all Z-Library content.
* Standard Ebooks: This site contains books that are in the public domain or copyright-free.
Users will be pleased in the short term with Z-Library’s creative method for bringing back clearnet access to its content. Whether its elaborate hydra scheme will be effective long-term remains to be seen and is a topic we will be keeping up-to-date on.
What is TPM?
As hackers become more sophisticated and find increasingly deceptive ways to access computers, devices must be equipped with the latest security technology. A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) is a small chip that protects a computer from malware or other cyber attacks. The TPM is found on a computer’s motherboard and is usually pre-installed onto devices with a recent version of Windows. When users switch on their devices, the TPM will quickly scan for any signs of hacking and automatically generate a cryptographic key to power up if everything is normal.
TPM 1.2 vs TPM 2.0
TPM technology is a hardware-based security approach that provides a root of trust. Its features have evolved as technology advances, protecting users by assessing and reporting the platform integrity of a device. Earlier versions of Windows are usually installed with TPM 1.2 and meet basic security specifications. TPM 1.2 is activated when a computer is switched on and provides measurements and validation of components before they can be loaded into the memory. Moreover, TPM 1.2 supports necessary cryptographic functions and can store up to 2048-bit RSA keys.
TPM 2.0 offers newer and more advanced security support designed to address the limitations of previous versions. With the ability to store up to 4096-bit RSA keys, TPM 2.0 provides enhanced flexibility and supports newer cryptographic algorithms. TPM 2.0 offers distinct security advantages over TPM 1.2 and is compatible with most major operating systems, including Windows and Linux.
How does TPM work? How to use a TPM?
TPMs are cryptographic modules that enhance the security of devices and networks. They offer numerous security features, including tamper-resistance and integrity measurement, and protect data via encryption and decryption. A TPM creates encryption codes that are stored between the TPM chip and the computer’s hard drive.
TPMs defend a computer from the get-go, running advanced checks to safeguard devices against malicious code from the second it is switched on. They also prevent unauthorized access to data: if the TPM chip is missing or there are signs the device has been tampered with, it simply will not turn on. TPMs are installed directly onto the device’s motherboard and are activated upon switching on a device. As such, they do not require any additional action from the user.
Do I already have a TPM?
Whether or not a computer already has TPM depends on when it was bought and which Windows version it uses. Devices purchased after 2016 usually come with TPM 2.0. Older devices may be equipped with TPM 1.2 or have no TPM at all.
Can I add a TPM if I do not have one?
Those comfortable with the ins and outs of a computer should be able to add a TPM 2.0 chip to its motherboard. Users should be mindful of when their device was built, as older computers may be unable to run Windows 11. Moreover, getting a TPM up and running may not be as easy as it seems.
There are generally three installation options for TPMs:
* A discrete TPM chip that comes as a separate component in a semiconductor package.
* An integrated TPM solution that uses dedicated hardware integrated into one or more semiconductor packages. This is usually separate from other components.
* A firmware TPM solution that runs the TPM in a Trusted Execution mode as part of a general computation unit.
What are the benefits of using TPM?
Although TPMs are unseen by users, they are crucial for running a secure device. Here are three ways using a TPM can benefit your computing experience.
1) Data encryption
Security is more relevant than ever before. Despite this, there are still a large number of unencrypted data transmissions that are easily readable by hackers. There is a risk of unencrypted data being intercepted during transmission, with a staggering seven million unencrypted data records compromised daily. TPM uses advanced software and hardware algorithms to protect plain-text data through encryption.
2) Protects from start-up malware
Specialized fast-acting malware can compromise computers during start-up, causing destruction before antivirus software has noticed something is wrong. TPMs establish a root of trust by verifying the boot loader first and evaluating whether or not the device has been tampered with. If something untoward is detected, the operating system will refuse to boot the system. If not, the computer will start as normal.
3) Storage safety
Studies show that 55% of people recall passwords from memory. If you have ever forgotten a password and endured a grueling reset process, you will know how frustrating memorizing passwords can be. But the alternatives are often riskier, with 20% of people stating they store passwords in their email accounts. Despite obvious vulnerabilities, these methods lack proper protection. Users can safely store encryption keys, certificates, and passwords inside a TPM, which offers more security than other methods.
What are the limitations of using TPM?
With cyber-attacks on the rise, there is no question Microsoft is doing all it can to protect users. TPM 2.0 is another effort to ramp up security in the face of rising cybercrime, however there may be some limitations.
1) Unclear installation
For those less comfortable with tinkering, finding out whether or not a computer has a pre-installed TPM could be challenging. If there is no TPM installed, users may try to install one themselves or purchase an additional TPM just in case. However, additional TPMs cannot necessarily protect against all kinds of attacks.
2) Does not prevent all attacks
TPMs may not be able to protect against so-called cold boot attacks, in which sensitive information is accessed from a computer’s random accessed memory (RAM) once the computer switches off. RAM data is usually erased when a computer shuts down. However, during cold boot attacks, criminals can quickly freeze the RAM and transfer its contents to another device. TPMs prevent keys from being loaded into memory, but they cannot prevent keys from being captured if they are already in the memory.
3) Compatibility issues
TPM 2.0 is compatible with most major operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, and macOS. However, earlier TPM versions are not compatible with non-Windows operating systems, meaning that some users may not be receiving the most recent protection.
With rising cases of cyberattacks, computers are undoubtedly more secure with a TPM. A TPM checks devices for tampering or malware even before it starts up and will simply refuse to switch on if it detects any unusual activity. Most devices purchased after 2016 already come with TPM 2.0, offering advanced protection for Windows 11 users. Devices purchased before this year may have TPM 1.2, although some have no protection at all. For maximum security, it is beneficial to check which TPM version your device has and install or upgrade it if necessary. Doing so will protect your device from malicious malware and provide ultimate password protection.
What is YouChat?
YouChat is an AI powered conversational search assistant that promises to revolutionize the way we search for information online. In this article we will discuss the origins of YouChat, how it stands out from other bots in the crowd, and what the future holds. Read on to familiarize yourself with the first large language model that actively stays up to date on current affairs. YouChat is the AI search engine that’s got people the world over asking it questions.
Searching for answers to our questions
Let’s begin by looking at how we use the internet to search for information and answers to our questions. Take a commonly searched query: “Can a cracked windscreen be repaired?” To find an answer (answers), a traditional search likely involves typing a query into your preferred search engine. The user is then presented with adverts, promoted pages, and several answers selected by the search engine. Scrolling down, there will be page after page of links to websites offering further information.
Depending on the complexity of the original question and your appetite for information, you might be able to find an answer quickly. There is always the danger of getting swamped with too much information. This is especially true if you like to get stuck in and dig deeper, comparing answers by reading multiple opinions in a discussion website or forum.
Perhaps you have used an AI search engine, one of the large language models like ChatGPT? How did your user experience compare to traditional searching? Currently, ChatGPT is still prone to “hallucinating” incorrect answers that it confidently offers as correct. YouChat is a hallucinator, too. Hallucinations aside, while both traditional searching and ChatGPT style search bots have advantages, neither of them have the conversational, personable character of YouChat.
Who are You? Who is YouChat?
The creator of YouChat is You.com, the search engine founded by former Salesforce maestros Richard Soccer and Bryan McCann. You.com offers a different approach to Google, integrating apps into search results, providing integrated results from relevant apps. The impetus is on the user: rankings are user influenced by giving a thumbs up or down, making You “The AI Search Engine You Control.”
YouChat launched in 2022, on the day before Christmas Eve. The AI powered conversational search assistant was upgraded and YouChat 2.0 was introduced on February 7th, 2023. Since then, YouChat 3.0 has landed, featuring a handy function called C-A-L (Chat, Apps, and Links), providing a wide range of results including images, videos, news, and maps. All of these can be conveniently accessed without having to open a new tab or leave the search results page.
Key to its current success and efficacy, the chat function is linked to up to the minute news and information sourced from platforms including Reddit and Wikipedia. So, even if you suspect that YouChat has given you an incorrect answer, it is easy to check: simply using the search function, without leaving the page.
As we shall discover, YouChat is a little different, and claims to be “The AI Search Engine You Control.” Let’s explore a little more. YouChat, in many ways, resembles a personal search assistant or an alternative Alexa. The chat interface, supported by AI and Natural Language Processing (NPL) power, allows human-like conversations, using its own language model. Perhaps the YouBot inhabiting YouChat will be embarrassed if I keep trying to describe it/him/her/they, so, here’s YouChat’s self introduction:
“Hello! My name is YouChat, I’m an AI that can answer general questions, explain things, suggest ideas, translate, summarize text, compose emails, and write code for you. I’m powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing, allowing you to have human-like conversations with me. I am constantly learning from huge amounts of information on the internet, which means I sometimes may get some answers wrong. My AI is always improving, and I will often share sources for my answers."
Straight from the horse's mouth, that should give you a better idea of what YouChat is. Although it is common these days to view every AI chat tool in comparison to ChatGPT, YouChat and ChatGPT are actually quite different. While they serve a similar purpose, the tech and content are separate, and the overall user experience is not the same. Very soon, there will be many, many more chatbots in the vein of ChatGPT, Google Bard and YouChat, but for now we will focus on YouChat.
What can YouChat do for you?
YouChat can read, write, summarize, provide ideas and explain things to you. On top of this, it can be used for good old fashioned web searches, or you can enlist YouChat’s ￼￼YouBot to sort the search results for you.
YouChat can help you to complete a range of tasks, from answering questions to creating content, summarizing books, and providing sources. Logical reasoning is another of YouChat’s talents, as is explaining complex concepts in terms that you can understand. YouChat is also a linguist, functioning in any of the world’s languages and is able to translate any language you can throw at it.
While it is more up-to-date than many other large language models, YouChat is beset with similar issues to other AI search engines and hallucinates references, expresses biases and sometimes provides misinformation, and outdated or irrelevant links.
It is important to remember that we are still very much in the early days of AI chatbots. The YouChat user experience is constantly improving and the more it is used, the better it gets. YouChat can approximate human style conversations, while politely answering your questions.
What does the future hold?
While many people (this author included) who experiment with YouChat and the You.com search engine are struck by its futuristic feel, there is still plenty of room for further growth. It is hard to say what the future has in store, but further evolution of AI bots promises increased convenience, speed, and accuracy when searching with the help of a generative AI search assistant. The possibilities may well be endless.
How to Test Your Firewall
Firewalls are an essential part of cybersecurity for both individuals and businesses, especially in the current Internet landscape where ordinary users are increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks. But many users don’t know that firewall testing is a crucial part of network security. Read on to learn more about maintaining your home or work firewall in order so you can stay protected.
What is a firewall, and why should I test it?
Firewalls act as a barrier between your network and the internet. Firewalls filter both incoming and outgoing traffic based on predefined criteria that define suspicious activity. In doing so, they protect your devices from a security breach and safeguard access to your personal information. They come in several different varieties, including software, software as a service (SaaS), hardware, public cloud, and private cloud (virtual).
Some networks use multiple firewalls. Businesses whose networks involve many devices may implement firewalls for each specific device as well as a network for the entire network. That way, incoming and outgoing traffic needs to pass two separate barriers before being allowed entry.
Most people’s devices come with a network firewall already installed. If you’re not sure, go to the security settings on your device and check that your firewall is turned on. Unfortunately, however, ensuring the firewall is turned on does not guarantee that it’s providing optimal protection. For the most secure connection, you should conduct regular tests of your firewall.
You see, firewalls were not designed to be set up once and left alone. For optimal protection and performance, you should regularly test your home or business firewall and make sure that it is effective. You will need to edit and define your firewall settings regularly to make it effective. This practice ensures that your firewall responds and adapts to changing network conditions.
In a world where cybersecurity attacks are becoming more sophisticated and more frequent, firewall testing is a crucial step of any security plan. In addition, firewall testing is required in some contexts where your Internet usage is governed by compliance standards and regulations.
Luckily, firewall testing has evolved to meet the current demands of network security. Testing can be done for free and can evaluate various aspects of your firewall performance as well as its adherence to various standards, including HIPAA or NIST. Let’s take a closer look in the next section.
How do I check my firewall?
There are a lot of free network security firewall testing tools available that cater to the needs of a variety of connections, ranging from personal devices and business networks. You can check your firewall in a few different categories, including functionality, security, performance, and compliance.
A great way to test your network is from the Internet so that you can simulate incoming attacks. One of the most accessible and user-friendly tools for firewall testing is ShieldsUP from Gibson Research. Like any good firewall testing tool, ShieldsUP tests all of your device’s ports to ensure they’re not visible to hackers.
ShieldsUP and other similar online firewall testers tend to offer a few different network firewall tests. The common ports test evaluates some of the most common (and often most vulnerable) ports used by services like FTP and NetBIOS, ensuring they are in stealth mode and invisible to hackers using port scanning tools.
The file sharing test, on the other hand, checks for ports typically associated with hazardous or suspicious programs. If the test detects one of these programs, it means that your computer could have been infected with a hidden file server.
An all ports and services test involves all ports and checks their status: open, closed, or in stealth mode. This allows you to see which ports may be vulnerable to attack and react accordingly.
If you operate a large network and are looking for a more comprehensive security evaluation, you may want to consider hiring a professional to perform penetration testing. Though this option is clearly more expensive and time-consuming, it replicates real attacks much more closely, allowing you to detect and respond to any holes in your network security.
How should I interpret my results?
So, you’ve done all your tests: now what? What do the results mean, and how should I respond to them? With network security firewall testing, the tests themselves are just the beginning. Here are a few steps you can take after firewall testing for best results.
First, if your tests have revealed any open ports, evaluate whether or not those ports need to be open. The more open ports you have, the more vulnerable you are to a cyberattack, so you should aim to keep as many ports in stealth mode as possible.
Secondly, evaluate whether or not the firewall performed as you expected. You may want to consider its speed, its volume capacity, its ability to prevent attacks, and its compliance with whatever standard your network uses.
Thirdly, document the results of your test. Understanding how your firewall performed in a previous test will give you more insight into how to interpret another test.
How often should I test my firewall?
You may have noticed the mention of “previous test” in the last paragraph. This is because best network security practices indicate that you should perform regular tests. The exact frequency will depend on your network and your needs.
Do you run a business with many employees and various firewalls? You may want to implement a policy requiring firewall testing every several months. Are you a personal computer user who rarely makes changes to their network? Every six months might be sufficient. In any case, remember that the higher the frequency of testing, the more secure you can feel in your network security.
Firewall testing is an important step towards increased network security in an age of digital vulnerability. Though there are more pitfalls now than ever before, the technology we have to mitigate those risks has also evolved. By conducting regular firewall testing, we can add strength to our network security and ensure a safe browsing experience.
How to Reverse Image Search from Your Desktop or Phone
Image search is the ability to do a keyword search and find images related to what you typed. Most search engines offer image results, which can be very convenient. But what if you have an image and want to know its origin or find similar images? That is when you need a reverse image search.
What is a reverse image search?
Reverse image search is a powerful query technique used for content-based image retrieval. The technique involves providing a search system with a sample image, which serves as the basis for the search. A sample image can be incredibly useful for information retrieval purposes, as it eliminates the need for users to guess at keywords or terms that may or may not yield accurate results for what they are trying to find. The defining feature of reverse image search is the lack of a need to provide any search terms, which makes the technique simple and convenient for users to find related content, discover manipulated versions and derivative works of images, and even gauge the popularity of an image.
Why would you use a reverse image search?
Some of the use-cases where you can utilize reverse image search tools are as follows:
* Find similar pictures: If you have a certain photo that you love and want to find other similar images, a reverse image search may be more effective than a normal keyword search for locating similar images. You do not need to refine search terms when using an image for your search.
* Find out the source of an image: If you have received a picture and want to know where it came from originally, a reverse image search will give you as much information as possible about where it was first uploaded to the Internet.
* Identify a person or get a person’s contact details: If you have lost touch with someone, a reverse image search can be performed to locate information about them by finding images that match that person on various websites, social media accounts, and public forums.
* Mobile image recognition: Connect the physical world to the digital using image recognition: if you are out and about and see something that you would like to know more about, you can take a photo of it and do a reverse image search to locate similar images, and then get information about those similar images.
* Find copyrighted photos: If you are a photographer or you sell copyrighted images/photos, you can do a reverse image search to see where else on the Internet your photos are being used to make sure you get your royalties.
* Check the authenticity of a picture: Look up images of accommodation rentals to make sure that they are not listed on other sites, which is something that a scammer might do. Scammers often steal images and list them as their own rental to take your deposit.
* Perform a product search: Find products that you have seen on the Internet and are interested in buying. For example, if you see something on Pinterest, such as a product or recipe, that is not linked to a product page, you can find out where it is available for purchase by using its image in a reverse image search.
How to reverse image search on desktop
Using your web browser, open any of the major search engines, such as Google Search, Bing, or Yandex. The following instructions apply to Yandex:
* Click the “Images” icon above the search bar.
* Click on the camera icon which is in the search bar toward the right.
* A popup box will appear where you are given the option to enter an image’s URL or upload a photo from your desktop.
* Most users save a photo they have already found online and then upload it into this box.
* The search engine will then display similar images and a list of all the pages where each image is displayed.
How to do a reverse image search on iPhone or Android
On phones, websites load differently and may not automatically offer reverse image searches. For example, when you fire up images.google.com on mobile, although the camera icon does show up in the search bar, tapping it will send you to download the Chrome app (from where you can easily perform a reverse image search).
To access Google’s reverse image search without using the Chrome app, you can load the desktop version of the Google website (or any other search engine’s website) on your mobile device. In Safari, tap the aA icon on the bottom left and select Request Desktop Site. In Chrome, tap the three-dot menu, scroll down on the menu that pops up, and select Request Desktop Site. On both browsers, that will load the desktop version of Google Images, and a working camera icon will appear. Then you can upload a photo from your photo library to perform a search on.
The reverse image search by Microsoft Bing is accessed as easily on mobile as it is on desktop. Browse to bing.com on any browser app and tap the camera icon that appears in the search bar in the same way as you would on desktop. You will then be asked to provide access to your camera and photo library, and you can either take a photo or upload one to perform the reverse image search.
Apps for reverse image search
If you prefer apps over the browser, a variety of reverse image search apps have been developed that you can keep on your smartphone at all times. Two of the best reverse image search apps are:
* Reverse Image Search Tool by Liam’s Studio on Google Play Store
* Reverse Image Search by Tiemei Yan on the App Store
Tips for using reverse image search
If you want even more advice on how to reverse search an image or if your searches are coming up empty-handed, try some of these tips:
* Crop images to highlight specific details that you wish to search for.
* Compress images before upload to save on upload bandwidth and time.
* Input a specific date range into the search tool.
* A input text into the search box to refine your results (if possible).
* Flip the photo to a different orientation.
* Upgrade the quality of your source photos.
Performing a reverse image search is a quick and easy way to find additional context about images and is a vital step for many professionals who work with photos. Try out the tips provided in this article and see what results you get.
What is Partitioning? How to Partition a Hard Drive? [Windows 11]
When you buy a brand-new computer or set up a new hard drive, you'll typically find it with a single partition - your C: drive on Microsoft Windows. You store all your apps, files, and personal data in one digital 'room.’
But why stick with a single room when you can have several? That's where disk partitioning comes in. You can separate it into multiple partitions or drives:
* System and programs (C: Drive)
* Files and user data (D: Drive)
Partitioning gives you more control. It boosts performance, makes backups easier, and reinstalling Windows is a cinch if you run into problems.
This article covers everything you need to know about disk partitioning, how to set it up, and the challenges you might encounter.
What is a Disk Partition?
A disk partition is a hard drive section separated from other segments. Think of it as a way to split your computer's hard drive into several smaller, independent units. These units are managed by your operating system (OS) and file systems as if they were individual hard drives.
Each partition earns a unique name or drive letter, such as C, D, and E, to help you recognize and access your different computer drives. It compartmentalizes your system so that each drive runs independently without affecting the others.
These partitions also work under a specific file system that dictates how data is stored, organized, and accessed. In Windows, you'll commonly encounter two:
* NTFS (New Technology File System): the go-to file system for Windows that supports virtually limitless file sizes and packs advanced features for data protection and recovery.
* FAT (File Allocation Table): This old-school file system has been around since 1977 and is best known for its compatibility. However, it has file size limitations.
Navigating the world of file systems might seem daunting, but just understand that different systems cater to different needs. NTFS is modern and packed with advanced features, while FAT offers broad compatibility, despite its limitations.
Due to larger cluster sizes, partitioning on FAT file systems can:
* Efficiently allocate space
* Reduce waste
* Potentially improve performance
However, file allocation is already efficient on NTFS file systems, thanks to smaller cluster sizes. Hence, the perks of partitioning for space usage and performance boost aren't as beneficial when using NTFS.
Why partition your hard drive?
When partitioning your hard drive, you divide the hard disk into separate sections that store different data types. Typically, you split your disk into at least two drives:
* System partition (C: Drive): Your digital command center. It holds your system files, OS, and all your software and apps.
* Data partition (D: Drive): Your personal vault. A storage locker for your documents, photos, music, and videos.
What do you gain by splitting your user data from the system data? Here's the deal:
* Better file organization
* Easier maintenance and recovery
* More efficient backups
* Reduces the risk of data loss
* Performance optimization
Partitioning helps prevent your system drive from being filled up, which can severely slow down your computer or make your system grind to a halt. Plus, it lessens the chance of data loss during system-related operations like OS reinstallations, as your files stay untouched in their data partition.
7 Advantages of Disk Partitioning
Why partition your hard drive? Here are some pros:
1) No-Stress OS reinstallation
With your Windows system files on a separate drive from your personal data, operations on Windows become a breeze. Reinstallation is simpler. All you need to do is format your Windows partition and reinstall the OS, leaving your programs and files untouched. Want an insurance policy? Clone your Windows partition for an exact OS setup backup in case of system failures or data corruption.
2) Simplified backup
We can't stress enough how important backing up your files is. While having files on a separate partition doesn't replace a real backup, it streamlines your backup process. You can easily choose which drive needs to be backed up. Now, backup is faster with smaller file sizes and shorter processing time.
You can also get your backup software to protect the entire drive eliminating the fuss of selecting individual folders.
3) Improved security
Separate drives can provide an extra defense against malware, such as ransomware. If your Windows drive gets infected, your personal files on the other partition could remain safe. As always, don't rely solely on partitioning – equip yourself with robust anti-virus tools.
4) Efficient file organization
Partitioning offers custom categories for your data: one for games and apps, another for documents and media, and so on. This can make it simpler to locate and access specific data.
5) Smooth multi-OS installations
Partitioning isn't just for segregating OS files and personal data – you can run Windows and Linux on the same computer. Each operating system is installed on a separate partition, allowing you to choose the desired one during boot-up. This configuration is commonly called a dual-boot or multi-boot setup.
6) Performance optimization
Partitioning can improve performance in specific scenarios. Placing the operating system and frequently accessed files on a separate partition can minimize file fragmentation and enhance responsiveness, especially on older hard disk drives (HDD).
7) Multi-file systems compatibility
Splitting an external HDD into partitions, you can format it to a FAT file system for universal compatibility to help you tailor disc space to your needs. This can be especially useful for external drives used across multiple OSes. Partitions can also be handy for juggling various file systems.
5 Disadvantages of Disk Partitioning
On the flip side, here are a few drawbacks to partitioning your hard drive:
1) False sense of security
Partitioning your drive may give the illusion of multiple independent units, but remember, they're all part of one physical entity. A drive failure, or damage from an unforeseen event, could wipe out everything, regardless of your partitions. This could be a nasty surprise for those unfamiliar with disk partitioning. Backing up data, irrespective of its partition, is vital—always keep multiple copies.
2) Extra complexity and error prone
Partitioning adds extra complexity to disk management. Having multiple partitions means dealing with separate storage spaces, drive letters, and file systems.
Configuring Windows to correctly save files and software across different partitions introduces complexity and increases the chance of mistakes. Inadvertently erasing a partition during formatting is an all-too-real risk.
3) Space management hurdles
Managing and optimizing partition sizes to avoid inefficient space usage can be challenging. If the partition sizes are not carefully planned, it can lead to wasted space as one partition sits half-empty.
An example of the size hurdle could be that a Windows 11 update needs more space than your partition has, forcing you to shrink one partition and extend another. While Windows does facilitate easy partition resizing, it's still an inconvenience to juggle regularly.
4) Limited Flexibility
Partition sizes and locations are fixed when created. This lack of flexibility can be a disadvantage if your storage needs change over time. Modifying it later can be difficult without resorting to complex and potentially risky procedures such as resizing or merging partitions.
5) Often Unnecessary
Partitioning offers tangible benefits for power users, but it's overkill for everyday users. The average user doesn't manage enough files to warrant separate partitions, nor do they regularly install other operating systems. Many of us store our documents in the cloud now.
6) SSDs Have Changed the Game:
Much of the rationale for partitioning has faded with the widespread adoption of Solid State Drives (SSDs). Partitioning an SSD doesn't deliver the same benefits as a mechanical HDD.
Should I Partition My SSD?
In the past era of HDDs, these mechanical drives stored your data on a magnetic platter. The drive would physically spin around to access data bits far apart, affecting performance. Partitioning was required to boost efficiency as it:
* Helped minimize wear and tear
* Improved read and write performance for faster data transfers
Separating data also helps defragmentation, an essential part of HDD maintenance, to run faster.
However, with SSDs, none of this applies. SSDs use "flashing" technology to write files, enabling instant data access. As there are no moving parts to wear out, and data can be retrieved instantly from anywhere, partitioning doesn't improve performance like HDDs. So, with SSDs, it's really up to your personal preferences.
However, partitioning SSD has some advantages:
* Streamlines backup and restoring the system
* Efficiently manages OS and personal data
* Protects personal files from system crashes or failure issues
How to Partition Your HD
1) Create Unallocated Space by shrinking the drive
To forge a new drive or partition, you need to shrink an existing one, creating unallocated space.
* Launch Disk Management: Right-click the Windows Start button in the toolbar and click Disk Management from the drop-down menu.
* Selecting a Drive: From the drive map displayed at the bottom of the Disk Management window, choose the hard drive you wish to partition.
* Shrinking the Drive: Right-click on the disk and select the Shrink Volume... option from the context menu. Now, you can specify the amount you want to reduce the drive chosen.
* Modifying the Partition Size: Change the partition size in the smaller window that pops up and click Shrink to confirm. This newly freed space can now serve to create a new partition.
2) Create a New Drive from the Unallocated Space
Now, you can transform the unallocated space into a brand-new drive:
* Right-click on the Unallocated box in the Disk Management window
* Click the New Simple Volume… option from the context menu.
* The New Simple Volume Wizard window will pop up. Click the Next button to begin.
* Specify Volume Size: Keep the default amount if you wish to create a new drive from all the unallocated space. Otherwise, change the volume size to keep some unallocated space for another new partition. Click the Next button.
* Assign a drive letter if you want. Click the Next button.
* You can type a new drive name in the Volume label field. Once done, click on the Next button.
* Click the Finish button to close the Wizard.
* You can now see the drive in the Disk Management window.
Disk partitioning is a potent tool for power users to enhance performance, backups, and multi-OS setups. How effective it is comes down to your needs and the type of storage device. SSDs don't require them, and caution is needed as partitioning can introduce complexities and potential data loss.
You're now well-equipped to navigate the intricacies of disk partitioning. Remember, it's one step of efficient data management—effective when used wisely with other practices like regular backups and appropriate file systems.
Top 10 Cities in Asia for Digital Nomads - 2023 (part 2)
Asia is a top travel destination for digital nomads, combining cultures, cuisines, and tech-friendly cities. With COVID-19 no longer a pandemic, remote work is rising, presenting a unique opportunity to travel the world while earning a living. Before you book your ticket, get travel insurance, and pack your bag, just remember to do your homework. The first thing on your list? Picking the right digital nomad laptop for your journey.
There's a world of choices out there, and we have discussed many incredible places in Asia to work remotely. This time, we're looking at some unique Asian cities offering a different vibe.
Asia's cultural and culinary landscape is as diverse as it is exciting, ensuring you won't have a dull moment working remotely here. Plus, the continent's compact geography means you can country-hop without busting your budget.
The continent is home to many high-tech cities, catering perfectly to the needs of digital nomads. So when you feel the urge to explore, hopping to the next Asian hotspot is a breeze.
1) Shanghai, China: where East meets West
Shanghai is a thriving, bustling city with skyscrapers, shops, and modern conveniences. There is a long history with plenty of cultural landmarks to visit, museums, and art galleries.
Despite its high population density, Shanghai has many gardens and parks amongst the high-rise where you can picnic or relax and enjoy nature. Walk along the Bund, a famed waterside walkway with spectacular city views and grand, Western-style buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Being a center for modern technology, buying a new device, or finding co-working spaces that provide reliable internet connections, comfortable work environments, and opportunities to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals is no problem in Shanghai. For China, you’ll need a visa for stays longer than 144 hours and the current US travel advisory level is 3 which means to reconsider travel.
Fast facts about Shanghai:
* Population: 29 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,997
* Internet Speed: Fast - 156.94 Mbps mobile, 229.08 Mbps fixed line
2) Osaka, Japan: cosmopolitan hotspot for digital nomads
Osaka is Japan's third most populated city, making finding co-working spaces and fast internet speeds easy to cater to all your needs. The locals are famous for being friendly, and English has been taught in schools for decades, so there will always be someone to help you out while you learn enough Japanese to get by.
In your spare time, go hiking in the countryside, visit Universal Studios, or visit temples and other cultural experiences. Osaka has one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country, Shitennō-ji. Takoyaki (ball-shaped snacks containing octopus) is credited as being invented in Osaka. Japanese theater is also widely available.
Fast Facts about Osaka:
* Population: 19 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 2,530
* Internet Speed: Medium – 43.87 Mbps mobile, 111.26 Mbps fixed line
3) Seoul, South Korea: digital nomad's high-tech haven
Seoul is a central technological hub known for its innovation and advanced technology, with reliable high-speed internet connectivity. This city's co-working spaces, cafes, and libraries equipped with lightning-fast Wi-Fi are as ubiquitous as its vibrant street food stalls. Seoul is your ideal destination if you're a digital nomad in a tech-heavy field or simply seeking a rendezvous with the future.
Despite being a bustling metropolis with lively nightlife, Seoul is surrounded by natural beauty. You can easily escape to nearby mountains, such as Bukhansan National Park, for hiking and outdoor activities. And within the city's boundaries, tranquil parks and green spaces provide a peaceful counterpoint to the thrumming pace of business, offering fresh air amidst the hustle and bustle.
Fast Facts about Seoul:
* Population: 10 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 2,384
* Internet Speed: Fast - 122.76 Mbps mobile, 141.67 Mbps fixed line
4) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: your digital nomad tropical retreat
Kuala Lumpur is a beacon for digital nomads with its high-speed internet services and numerous co-working spaces, cafes, and libraries. These spaces, well-equipped with Wi-Fi, foster an ideal environment for remote work. Enjoy the city's relatively low living cost, making Kuala Lumpur an affordable choice compared to many other major cities. Its status as a central airline hub means easy access to the rest of Asia or beyond.
Kuala Lumpur is a multicultural city with a rich blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences. This diversity is reflected in its vibrant food scene and cultural experiences. English is widely spoken by locals making it easy to interact with locals and find your way around.
Like much of Asia, Kuala Lumpur's tropical climate may challenge you if you're unaccustomed to heat and humidity. But if you're a fan of the tropics, the city's warm weather will feel just like paradise.
Fast Facts about Kuala Lumpur:
* Population: 6.7 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,369
* Internet speed: 47.57 Mbps mobile, 93.83 Mbps fixed line
5) Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: budget-friendly nomad base
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, unfolds as a budget-friendly haven for digital nomads, offering reasonable prices for accommodations, food, transportation, and entertainment. It allows you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank. The city has many co-working spaces and cafes providing reliable internet connections, relaxed work environments, and opportunities to network and collaborate with other remote workers.
Ho Chi Minh City is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine. From street food stalls to trendy restaurants, you'll find an abundance of local dishes to tantalize your taste buds.
Of course, as with any major city, Ho Chi Minh has its share of challenges, including traffic congestion and occasional bouts of air pollution. However, its affordable cost of living, vibrant culture, and growing infrastructure are great for digital nomads who seek a cheap base in Asia.
Fast Facts about Ho Chi Minh City:
* Population: 9.3 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,099
* Internet Speed: 48.60 Mbps mobile, 93.82 Mbps fixed line
6) Kaohsiung, Taiwan: coastal charm for digital wanderers
Kaohsiung is a pretty coastal city in southern Taiwan. As Taiwan's third-largest city, it offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Visit Monkey Mountain for a delightful encounter with its furry residents and awe-inspiring sea views, punctuated by historic buildings and sprawling landscapes.
If a beach escape is more your speed, Cijin Island, just a short ferry ride away, provides pristine beaches and the freshest seafood. Experience the vibrant Taiwanese culture through bustling night markets, intriguing museums, and unique art galleries waiting to be discovered.
Kaohsiung is big enough to have all the advantages of a city you need for working remotely, like easy-to-find accommodation, food, and co-working spaces. Yet, it's small enough for you to explore a wide variety of entertainment, history, and countryside.
Fast Facts about Kaohsiung:
* Population: 2.7 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,671
* Internet Speed: 65.53 Mbps mobile, 174.36 Mbps fixed line
7) Phnom Penh, Cambodia: remote work meets rich history
Situated at the junction of two rivers, Phnom Penh, the vibrant capital of Cambodia, presents a picturesque locale for boat rides, riverside strolls, and café-hopping. The riverbanks, with various shops, cafes, and bars, provide a unique backdrop for work and leisure. While its bustling nightlife is a draw, it's wise to stay alert and ensure personal safety, as with any major city.
Phnom Penh stands out as one of the more budget-friendly cities in Asia, offering a unique mix of affordability and cultural richness. Although internet speeds might not top the charts, they're fast enough for most digital nomads' needs. Add a healthy selection of co-working spaces to this, and you'll find Phnom Penh a compelling option for your digital nomad journey.
Fast Facts about Phnom Penh:
* Population: 2.3 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,130
* Internet Speed: 25.10 Mbps mobile, 21.19 Mbps fixed line
8) Chiang Mai, Thailand: tranquil reset for your digital life
Chiang Mai is a popular destination for digital nomads because the cost of living is relatively cheap for the high quality of life in a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. Chiang Mai is known for its friendly locals, rich cultural heritage, and abundant natural beauty. You can explore historic temples, visit local markets, or venture into the nearby mountains and national parks for outdoor activities.
Chiang Mai has reliable internet connectivity available in most areas. Internet speeds are generally sufficient for remote work, and access to Wi-Fi is prevalent in cafes, co-working spaces, or your accommodation.
When planning your trip, remember to check out Thailand's different visa options based on your intended length of stay. That way, you're all set for your digital nomad journey in Chiang Mai.
Fast Facts about Chiang Mai:
* Population: 1.2 million
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,012
* Internet Speed: 37.32 Mbps mobile, 205.82 Mbps fixed line
9) Panaji, India: life in the heart of Goa
Panaji, also known as Panjim, is the charming capital of the Indian state of Goa. Living costs are relatively inexpensive, allowing digital nomads to live comfortably.
Panaji city boasts a fusion of Indian and Portuguese culture, a laid-back lifestyle, and a pleasant climate that's hard to resist. With its stunning beaches, vibrant local culture, and a strong emphasis on leisure, Panaji is an adventure in itself.
Get lost in the city's historic sites, explore local markets, and savor the distinctive flavors of traditional Goan cuisine. If you time your visit right, you might witness the city's lively festivals and cultural events. Those interested in wellness will find ample opportunities to learn about yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda practices.
While Panaji is smaller than other cities on this list, and its coworking scene is still evolving, it offers work-friendly spaces and cafes. These places provide a decent work environment, Wi-Fi access and networking opportunities. Just keep in mind that the reliability and speed of the internet may differ.
Fast Facts about Panaji:
* Population: 115 thousand
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,466
* Internet Speed: 45.95 Mbps mobile, 44.56 Mbps fixed line
10) Canggu, Indonesia: surf, sand & software
Canggu may be small, but its charm is mighty. At first glance, it might not seem like an ideal workspace or entertainment hub. Still, this little corner of Indonesia has a unique appeal. After a day's work, enjoy the sun, surf, Indonesian culture, and rural countryside.
Indulge in a rejuvenating massage to loosen those work-tensed muscles, then unwind at cozy cafes, tranquil spas, and serene yoga centers. Despite its size and relaxed ambiance, Canggu offers ample co-working spaces to focus on your work before hitting the beach for a refreshing swim, sunset viewing, and socializing.
Unlike the concrete sameness of many urban landscapes, Canggu's natural beauty offers stunning diversity. With gorgeous beaches, cascading waterfalls, scenic walks, and bike rides nestled in a culture that prioritizes health and wellness, Canggu is a gem for digital nomads searching for a unique living and working experience.
Fast Facts about Canggu:
* Population: 40 thousand
* Cost of living per month: USD 1,700
* Internet Speed: 31.40 Mbps mobile, 31.80 Mbps fixed line
Starting your digital nomad adventure in Asia can be exciting and rewarding. Each city has its unique charm and challenges. But with good travel planning, your experience can be a great one. Just remember, wherever you go, be careful and do your research before you leave home.