Building from Within: Why SMBs Need Intrapreneurship
American businessman Farrah Gray has the famous saying, “build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs”. This statement gives the impression that company employees are always solely working to make an employer’s idea come true. This, however, is not always the case, thanks to intrapreneurship.
Intrapreneurship — a term that interestingly doesn’t circulate around very often — refers to a system where employees can take agency and conduct entrepreneurial projects within a company. An intrapreneur, therefore, can be thought of as an entrepreneur within a company. In all cases, the employee sees opportunity in a business idea and acts on it, developing a new product or service that could potentially bring in more revenue to the company. Intrapreneurship can also be based on other initiatives, such as to enhance corporate social responsibilities. It is particularly important for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as intrapreneurship is where business ideas are generated, and where employees get to unlock their creative potential.
Intrapreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship
A common question is how intrapreneurship differs from entrepreneurship. Intrapreneurs work on their business ideas within the confines of the companies they already work for; entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have their own projects and businesses.
In simple terms, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are different because of where they work on their ideas and how they handle risks and resources. Intrapreneurs are people who work on new ideas within the company they already work for. They use the company’s resources and share the risks and the rewards with their company. This means they have some support and help from the company while working on their ideas.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs work on their ideas independently, starting their own businesses. They have to find their own resources, like money and people to help them, and they make their own decisions about their projects. Entrepreneurs get to keep the profits they make, but they also have to deal with all the problems and risks on their own.
One well-known example to illustrate intrapreneurship is the invention of Post-it notes at 3M, a multinational conglomerate that applies scientific ideas to product creation. In the 1960s, 3M employee Spencer Silver invented a low-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive (albeit somewhat by accident – he originally wanted to invent a stronger adhesive). Years later, his colleague Arthur Fry decided to “bookmark” his hymn book with a piece of paper that had this low-tack, reusable adhesive on it. The idea was a success, and post-it notes became a globally-known intrapreneurial project at the company for decades to come.
While 3M as a company was not originally established with the idea of selling post-it notes, this innovation within the business is a classic example of outstanding intrapreneurship. With this intrapreneurial idea, the business had an excellent product to manufacture, which not only grew the business but also increased the company’s innovative power. Crucially, 3M gave its employees the resources and the stage to experiment ideas, ultimately developing a new product. This showcases how Intraprensurship can only truly take place with adequate insight and support from the company’s higher-ups.
Benefits of intrapreneurship
There are multiple benefits of Intrapreneurship, which can be analyzed from the perspectives of both the business and the employee:
From the perspective of the business
Intrapreneurship implies the open-mindedness of business, demonstrating that top-level executives have trust in their employees to innovate. With intrapreneurship, the higher-ups of a business would open themselves to more perspectives and creative ideas. The goal of business is ultimately to expand, and intrapreneurship is where new projects are born. This, therefore, is key for cultural transformation, and it also drives innovation by introducing novel ideas, products, and services that help a business appear more competitive.
From a more technical perspective, intrapreneurship allows a business to truly use its human capital, allowing employees to give their best ideas with their existing expertise. It creates room to innovate with what the existing company infrastructure can offer, taking up less financial investment. Intrapreneurship also allows testing of new business ideas with a business’s existing resources before it is fully launched as a product, with more efficient adaptation based on team feedback.
From the perspective of the employee
Intrapreneurship motivates employees to actively contribute to a business’s innovation, beyond just completing their assigned tasks. This can lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and a sense of belonging and being for the employee. An intrapreneurial culture encourages employees to keep thinking out of the box, putting a close eye on what could be considered the best ideas in their fields.
It is also necessary to mention that with intrapreneurship, employees would run less financial risk compared to entrepreneurship. This could be an opportunity for employees who aren’t risk-takers by nature, but who still have innovative ideas for business nonetheless.
Challenges of intrapreneurship
Fear of change
It is common to fear intrapreneurship as a concept, as it is not as often discussed as entrepreneurship, and there are fewer resources to learn about it. Remember, however, that intrapreneurship is all about continuous learning, as well as trial and error; both success and failures are seen as a chance for the company to grow.
Intrapreneurship takes time and resources, and it may be a challenge in the beginning to set that aside. Financial investment can also be another common concern, so the efficient use of lean methodologies to experiment with ideas, without putting in heavy investments, would be something to keep in mind.
Maintaining alignment with the core business
It is important for intrapreneurial projects to not interfere with the progress of existing projects, so it is critical to establish clear parameters for what can and cannot be done with intrapreneurial projects. Whether or not the intrapreneurial business idea sits well with the company brand is also another important one to address.
Steps for SMBs to embed intrapreneurship into their company
Intrapreneurship may sound like a novel, challenging idea, but here are some steps to help you facilitate the process:
1. Create communication channels for your employees
To foster an intrapreneurial culture, the first step is to encourage employees to voice their business ideas through simplified communication channels. Whether it be suggestion boxes in common areas, or monthly brainstorming sessions, you would need to create a space where employees feel welcome to share their creative thoughts. The importance of open communication is well-documented in organizational psychology, showing a direct correlation with increased employee engagement and innovation. Avoid bureaucratic procedures that may put off employees from speaking their minds, as this can stifle creativity and hinder the free exchange of ideas.
2. In-house training
Each of your employees–even if they share the same title–likely have different skill sets. Harness this diversity by having them use their expertise to teach fellow coworkers valuable skills or brainstorm new ideas for your company. Structured interactions, such as peer learning programs or hands-on workshops, can serve as an important learning experience for all employees. It also serves as an important catalyst to meld different perspectives into coherent, novel ideas.n Intrapreneurship, after all, is based on a culture of continuous learning.
3. Celebrate small wins
To truly foster intrapreneurship, it is necessary to celebrate any progress made and to make it clear to employees that their innovation is appreciated. This does not have to be in the form of huge financial awards– even a genuine letter of encouragement from the CEO may go a long way in cultivating an ongoing intrapreneurial culture. When employees perceive their efforts and contributions as valued, it fosters a sense of belonging and reinforces their commitment to organizational goals and the intrapreneurial project. By consistently recognizing and celebrating small wins, organizations can cultivate an environment where innovation thrives, and employees are motivated to contribute their best ideas.
4. Project management and feedback mechanism
For intrapreneurship to work, effective project management must be implemented. This would entail regular check-ins, meetings, reviews on feasibility, and channels for feedback to implement the idea. The need for meticulous project management in intrapreneurship is highlighted by the inherent uncertainty and risk involved in pioneering new ideas. For SMBs, where resources are typically limited, the impact of well-structured project management is even more pronounced. While these entities may already employ robust plans and strategies for existing projects, applying sound project management principles is imperative when navigating the uncharted territories of intrapreneurial initiatives.
Recognizing intrapreneurship as a productive way to run a business
Regardless of a business’s size,it is crucial for top leaders to be open to the innovative potential within their teams since the best ideas may not always emanate from the top. It is productive for a company to recognize intrapreneurship not just as a way to collect profitable ideas, but also as a channel to develop an encouraging company culture wherein employees feel valued and empowered to contribute original ideas. Intrapreneurship is a gateway into today’s competitive world of commerce, so take your first steps today to implement intrapreneurship into your SMB.
Ten Healthy Habits You Need to Start Doing at Work
A large portion of our lives is spent in the workplace, and over time, the habits we develop at work can begin to influence our health long-term. As such, it is essential to establish good practices that can not only improve our health but also be a key booster for productivity. Here, we explore ten positive habits you can start doing at the office, discussed in terms of physical and mental health.
1. Maintaining proper posture
If you have a sedentary job, less-than-ideal sitting positions and prolonged hours in your chair can cause long-term health problems. Bad sitting positions can be caused by sitting too high, too low, or having the screen at an unideal distance away from you. As such, purchasing a comfortable, ergonomic chair, getting the right equipment, and positioning yourself at a good distance away from your computer are the first steps to maintaining a healthy posture. Acer, for instance, has produced some robust guidelines on how to maintain proper posture in front of the computer.
2. Prioritizing eye care
Many jobs today necessitate that workers spend a significant amount of time in front of screens. In a world where many meetings and tasks are handled online, it's not uncommon to spend entire days in front of a computer. Extended screen time can cause not only eye strain and discomfort but also occasional severe migraines, and in extreme cases, may even lead to temporary short-sightedness.
For this reason, it is crucial to go through regulations on Display Screen Equipment (DSE) – an informative guideline on how best to position your screen and other electronic devices used at work. This healthy practice also acts as a reminder for you to pay heed to things such as your screen’s brightness levels, text size, contrast, and color temperature.
Additionally, taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes– even for a short duration of 20 seconds–can help prevent eye strain. During this break, it's ideal to look away from the screen and focus on an object at least 20 feet away. The benefits of doing so extend beyond eye health – by taking reasonably paced screen breaks, you can increase blood flow and clear your mind, reducing the chances of aches and mental burnout.
3. Limiting caffeine intake
Globally, many rely on a morning coffee to jumpstart their day. Coffee itself isn’t inherently unhealthy, provided it's not loaded with milk or sugar, and moderate caffeine consumption can even offer some health benefits. However, workplace stress could tempt individuals to consume excessive amounts of coffee, a condition otherwise known as ‘caffeinism,’ which can lead to caffeine-induced anxiety or sleep disorders. As tempting as it is, it’s prudent to limit visits to the coffee machine— a reminder that’s particularly important if the coffee at your workplace is free!
4. Staying hydrated
Given the predominant focus on caffeine in office culture, the importance of hydrating with water can often be overlooked. Not only is drinking water a simple and healthy choice, but it can also boost your blood circulation greatly on a day with intense schedules. Water can cool you down when emotionally stressed, and also lubricate your potentially achy joints after an entire day of work.
5. Practicing mindful eating
Closely related to caffeine overdose, there is also the concern of excessive snacking at work. For some people, eating snacks (particularly sweet ones) is a coping mechanism for stress, but a long-term habit of doing so could lead to an unnecessary build of sugar in the body, leading to diseases such as cancer. Conversely, opting for the right snacks at work, particularly those rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, can significantly enhance productivity by providing sustained energy, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and improving cognitive function. By prioritizing nutrient-dense snacks, such as nuts, fruits, and yogurt, and maintaining proper hydration, employees can counteract energy slumps, bolster focus and concentration, alleviate stress, and foster overall well-being.
6. Incorporating office exercises and walks
Long hours of focusing on the same thing can easily generate stress, particularly if you’re constantly on the computer. Time permitting, there are multiple benefits of taking a walk during work – not only does it boost your physical and mental health, but research also suggests that taking a walk can stimulate the brain to be more creative and productive. A true win-win situation indeed! A similar activity would be office exercises – there are several simple exercises you can do at your desk, such as squats or desk push-ups.
7. Power napping
If allowed at your workplace, consider taking some power naps of 10 to 30 minutes. Power naps cannot only temporarily rejuvenate you (in case you haven't had enough sleep from the evening before) but also lead to better work performance after your nap.Studies suggest that a short nap can improve mood, alertness, and cognitive performance, particularly in areas such as reaction time and memory. It can also alleviate stress and potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
To optimize the benefits of power naps, find a quiet and comfortable place to avoid disturbances, block out light and noise, and set an alarm to prevent oversleeping, which can lead to grogginess. Avoid late-day naps to maintain regular sleep patterns at night. While the duration and environment for optimal power naps can vary individually, they are not a substitute for getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night, which is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and optimal health.
When time is tight, even simple stretches can level up your energy. The importance of stretching is that it prevents your muscles from shortening and tightening, which, in the long run, can help prevent strains, joint pain, and even muscle damage. Additionally, regular stretching can improve flexibility, increase blood flow to the muscles, enhance range of motion, and reduce stress and tension, contributing to overall well-being and improved physical performance. It’s advisable to incorporate a variety of stretches targeting different muscle groups and to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to gain maximum benefits.
9. Meditating and practicing breathing exercises
Work life can be hugely stressful, so it can be beneficial to try meditation exercises during break time. Meditation doesn’t necessarily entail sitting cross-legged with eyes completely shut–you can meditate at any moment when you’re not actively doing something intense, such as when taking a walk during lunch or enjoying your coffee break. Meditation works by shifting the brain’s focus from stress-producing thoughts to a more relaxed state, promoting a sense of peace and calm. The 4-7-8-4 breathing technique is also said to ease anxiety when things get intense–try breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7, exhaling for 8 seconds, and redoing it four times. Regular practice can make it easier to return to a state of balance and calm in the midst of workplace challenges.
10. Building social connections and a supportive workspace
Lastly, since most people spend a considerable number of years working throughout their lifetime, it is important to create a working culture where socializing is the norm. While it is enjoyable to organize and attend dinners or parties, a supportive workplace doesn’t have to be based on grandiose events. Sometimes, a daily check-in with your colleagues–a kind gesture to inquire about each other’s well-being–could help construct an encouraging and mentally healthy workplace.
Work takes up around one-third of our lives, and the habits we create in this space will determine how healthy we are in the long run. A healthy work routine is essential not only for your own good but is also heavily linked to your physical and emotional well-being. Health at work, therefore, should be a collaborative effort between both the employer and employees.
How a Secure and Eco-Conscious Investment Can Benefit Your School
From pre-school to post-grad, the way we learn and teach is increasingly integrated with technology. Whether your school uses the flipped classroom model, hybrid learning, or simply provides learners with tablets or laptops for in-class activities, chances are technology benefits both students and educators in your school.
In this era of technological interdependence, striking a balance between innovation and sustainability becomes crucial. Schools are facing the challenge to not only integrate advanced, efficient, and engaging technology into the educational system but also to do so responsibly and sustainably.
When it comes to investing in student laptops and other IT purchases, have you considered eco-conscious, sustainable technology? Sustainable schools are an important part of our future, but we must also protect students’ information and privacy. In this article, we will discuss the importance of making sustainable IT investments, and then go on to introduce ways to ensure that student and staff data is protected.
Eco-conscious investments: A necessity for the future
As educators, we must lead by example. We are entering an era where studies indicate that our planet is beyond the safe operating space for humanity, making the teaching of eco-conscious values to our youth vital. A small, yet significant part of this is making secure, eco-conscious investments in our schools.
IT purchases, such as student laptops, typically go through a meticulous decision-making process. This process involves a needs assessment to identify the requirements, such as the number of units, technical specifications, and budget. Following potential vendor selection, pilot programs may be conducted before making procurement steps. After the laptops are delivered, software and security should be installed, to ensure ongoing data protection. A well-planned deployment strategy should be put in place, with training and ongoing support offered to both students and faculty.
How can schools be more sustainable?
In order to reduce your school’s carbon footprint, eco-conscious decisions in the procurement of laptops and other equipment must be implemented. Investing in laptops made with recycled materials can contribute to your school’s sustainability. Educational institutes are a fertile ground for integrating energy-efficient solutions. Some common examples include eco-friendly landscaping, occupancy sensors, building automation, and LED lighting. Enhancing your school’s sustainability should also encompass energy education and community outreach to educate pupils, parents, and staff alike. By addressing these issues and making eco-conscious investments, you will elevate the standing of your school in the community, attracting both students and staff.
Spotlight: Microsoft Intune for Education
Offering a cloud-based solution for set up and management of IT devices for both teachers and students, Microsoft Intune for Education maximizes your time. Designed around the needs of students and educators, Intune for Education encourages increased productivity, while protecting your school’s information. This mobile device management (MDM) service allows you to manage the devices and apps that your staff and students use. Furthermore, Intune protects your data by helping to control how your users access and share it, while ensuring that devices and apps meet security requirements.
Intune for Education’s cloud-based nature offers many benefits to school IT administrators. The service streamlines the management of devices, and can be used to deploy apps via the cloud. Remote app deployment and management ensures that students can access the apps that they require, while blocking app and internet access to age-inappropriate apps across their devices. Remote wipe and troubleshooting features further minimize device downtime and device handling.
Secure and optimize classroom tech with Intune for Education
Safeguarding student data is the educator’s responsibility. Intune for Education ensures that data privacy is safeguarded in compliance with data protection regulations. The security features of Intune for Education are an attractive feature of this service, offering the protection of Microsoft’s comprehensive security solutions. Intune for Education can be integrated with Microsoft’s various security solutions, such as those available in Windows 11 Pro. These include an extensive range of features, including BitLocker, Windows Defender Antivirus, and Device Guard. To find out more, check out this article for an overview of enhancing student and teacher data privacy.
Intune can help minimize the disruption caused by damaged laptops. Administrators can quickly deploy and ensure that replacement devices are properly configured for use in the classroom. Intune for Education also helps keep students on track, by blocking students from installing unauthorized apps on their laptops. With Intune for Education, schools can configure settings to control how users install and access apps on their devices.
For example, schools can block access to administrative apps, block installing apps from the Microsoft Store for Education, require Microsoft Store for Education apps to be installed from the private store, and block installing apps from places other than the Microsoft Store for Education. This can help schools ensure that students can only install authorized apps on their laptops, contributing to a focused learning environment.
As we mentioned above, the device policy features of Intune for Education assist in device enrollment, as well as app deployment and management. On top of this, schools can implement security policies, including encryption and remote wipe capabilities.
Software update management is another feature of Intune for Education, allowing schools to schedule updates at times when they will not disrupt class activities. A welcome eco-benefit provided by Intune for Education is remote power management. Remote device management helps to save energy and lower your school’s carbon footprint by remotely shutting down devices. The service can also improve energy efficiency by optimizing device settings.
Acer’s sustainable, durable approach to school laptops
Acer’s TravelMate B series is a line of lightweight, durable and sustainably designed laptops built to last and excel. TravelMate school laptops can truly unlock student potential by combining performance, connectivity and sustainability. TravelMate laptops combine next generation hardware with intuitive design and highly functional apps, helping your students to do their best. Equipped with up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, it offers high performance and low power consumption, while a single charge provides up to 9 hours of battery life—enough to get your students through the day’s classes.
Learners require different laptops at different stages of their education. Acer’s TravelMate B series has a laptop to suit the individual needs of every student as they progress from elementary to college.
* TravelMate B3 11 is a user-friendly laptop ideal for elementary and middle school pupils.
* TravelMate B3 Spin 11 shares the features of the B3 11, plus the added capability to be flipped and used as a writing or drawing pad.
* TravelMate B5 14 has higher specs than B3 and is a laptop geared toward high school and beyond.
The rugged, long lasting design of the TravelMate series is a notable feature, ensuring that your students will have a hard time breaking their laptops. The school day can involve some rough and tumble, but thankfully Acer’s rugged laptops are durable to U.S military standard MIL-STD 810H certification. Indeed, there are a great many reasons to invest in Acer's rugged, reliable laptops for students.What’s more, TravelMate student laptops feature spill-resistant keyboards and reinforced IO ports.
Let’s not forget the TravelMate’s mechanically anchored keys and serviceable keyboards. Serviceable keyboards are an innovative feature for quick, hassle-free keyboard replacement. Minimizing disruption to learning, serviceable keyboards can be replaced by educators or students in a matter of minutes, with no need to send the damaged laptop for repair.
The TravelMate’s ruggedness is also complemented by its sustainability. TravelMate laptops are designed to reduce waste across the lifetime of the device, and feature recycled materials as well as sustainable packaging. Molded pulp packaging uses recycled paper, cardboard, and other natural fibers, offering greater sustainability benefits than traditional plastic and Styrofoam packaging. Reducing packaging waste and conserving natural resources can be a step towards an eco-conscious investment for your school.
What’s more, TravelMate laptops boast several eco-conscious features, including the innovative OceanGlass touchpad. Acer uses recycled ocean-bound plastic on the surface of the touchpad, creating a sleek, glass-like tactile feel as your fingers scroll across its surface. The OceanGlass touchpad reduces the amount of plastic waste in the ocean and is another example of how Acer is committed to sustainability and reducing waste across the lifetime of its devices. Along with these eco-conscious features, configurations of TravelMate laptops are TCO certified in some countries as well as being EPEAT registered.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article, and now have a deeper understanding of the importance of making secure and eco-conscious investments for your school. By combining data security and sustainability, IT solutions such as Microsoft Intune for Education and Acer TravelMate series laptops provide today’s learners with the tools that they will need for a brighter, safer, and more eco-conscious tomorrow.
By reducing your school’s carbon footprint, and encouraging both faculty and students to engage with energy-efficient solutions, you will contribute to establishing a sustainable community centered around your school. Coupling these eco-conscious investments with a cloud-based MDM service can truly optimize your classroom tech, creating an organized, secure, and forward-looking learning environment. Before making your next IT investment for your school, consider the future and how your choices today can have a positive impact for tomorrow.
7 Simple Tech Solutions for Effective Classroom Teaching
Today’s young generation uses technology as an integral part of their everyday lives. Ask any young person whether or not they use some form of tech in the classroom or at home, and the answer will probably be a resounding “yes!”. Traditional education styles included a teacher delivering class content while students listened and made notes, but this is rapidly changing. Nowadays, many classrooms are embracing flipped learning, which is designed around students’ needs and relies heavily on technology to provide a meaningful learning experience. In a flipped classroom environment, students are expected to complete work at home for in-class discussions, and the onus is on them to get involved.
Young learners who are so-called ‘digital natives’ expect to see technology in the classroom, and it can help teachers create that all-important connection with students. Leveraging technology in today’s educational landscape is no longer an option — it is a necessity. As teachers and educators, our job is to embrace the digital age and leverage technology in our classes. Teaching with technology may be overwhelming for digital immigrants who did not grow up surrounded by tech, but we can still embrace new ways of teaching to help students the best we can. Recently, even games such as Minecraft have been used to enhance the learning experience by allowing students to engage with materials in unique and exciting ways on tablets and laptops both at home and in the classroom.
Why is technology important in the classroom?
Using technology in the classroom is more than just a handy tool for teachers — it brings learning to life and inspires students in ways we would never expect. Integrating technology into classrooms cultivates a more engaging learning environment for kids and lets them build on their creative skills. One of our roles as teachers is to prepare kids for life beyond school, and technology can help us accomplish this goal. Using technology in classes encourages teamwork and group learning, which are crucial life skills and can help kids pick up useful tips for their future careers.
7 technologies to leverage to run an effective classroom
Embracing assistive technology in the classroom can be overwhelming. We have compiled a handy list of technologies for teachers wondering how to integrate technology in the classroom.
1. Microsoft Learning Accelerators
Microsoft’s Learning Accelerators are tools to improve the learning experience. They help students practice and boost their skills in core subjects and provide real-time coaching to let them practice and get ahead. This leads to better engagement during classes and helps students reach their learning outcomes in a fun and exciting way.
Integrated into Microsoft 365 Education, Learning Accelerators also streamline the creation, review, and analysis of practice assignments. This saves teachers time and effort and lets us focus on doing what we do best — delivering outstanding learning opportunities for students.
Learning Accelerators are also seamlessly integrated into familiar Microsoft products like Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Word. By using programs we already know and love, teachers can start using Learning Accelerators straight away without having to learn how to use yet another application.
With Learning Accelerators, teachers can create a meaningful learning environment for students of all ages and abilities. Kids who struggle to keep up with reading may benefit from the Reading Coach, which offers gentle tips for improved pronunciation, syllabification, and vocabulary retention. It also helps students become more confident readers and overcome feelings of shyness when reading.
Here’s a handy video to learn how to enhance classrooms with Learning Accelerators and create a mutually beneficial experience for teachers and students.
2. PowerPoint and Presenter Coach
Most teachers will probably use PowerPoint to present information during classes. PowerPoint lets teachers create visually appealing presentations with various design options, animations, and multimedia content to keep students engaged while learning. Using PowerPoint presentations is relatively easy for teachers to master and can help increase engagement with just a few clicks and colors.
PowerPoint also allows multiple users to work together on the same presentation in real time, cutting the time and effort it takes to send documents back and forth. Teachers can collaborate with colleagues and teaching assistants to refine classroom materials, making them suitable for young learners of all ages and abilities. Once finished, teachers can easily share PowerPoint presentations with students by uploading them to an accessible shared location or presenting them during class. This is easier for students as they can review materials at their own pace before or after class.
The PowerPoint Presenter Coach gives teachers real-time feedback on their presentation skills in pacing, pitch, and use of filler words. This lets teachers improve delivery and make classes more interesting for students, helping to boost their focus.
3. Immersive Reader
The Immersive Reader function is built into Office 365 and Microsoft Edge, making classes more accessible and inclusive for learners. It lets readers control how the words appear by adjusting aspects like spacing and color of the text, creating an all-inclusive classroom environment. The Immersive Reader can also translate entire web pages into over 70 languages, helping students who are not fluent in the language of instruction keep up with class content. This is also useful for teachers of foreign languages who are trying to find engaging and realistic ways to teach languages to students.
Moreover, Immersive Reader simplifies the layout of the text and images, providing learning accessibility tools like Read Aloud, Text Preferences, and Grammar Tools to help students expand their reading abilities. For example, Grammar Tools help enhance comprehension by splitting words into syllables and highlighting nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. By using Microsoft Immersive Reader, teachers can ensure students get the best reading guide available.
Teachers can make use of OneNote to create digital notebooks and share resources with students, enhancing organization skills for both teachers and students. This way, students no longer have to lug heavy books around and can simply rely on digital notebooks for each class.
OneNote also allows multiple users to collaborate on the same notebook in real-time. This increases classroom engagement and encourages students to contribute and ask questions while learning. Teachers and students can record and embed audio and video directly into notes, significantly enhancing the learning experience. Whether delivering online or in-person classes, OneNote helps teachers create an interactive learning experience that students will love.
5. Office Lens
Office Lens lets teachers share handwritten notes and materials, which are then turned into digital documents. This allows teachers to use Office Lens to easily trim and enhance photos of whiteboards or notes and share them with students in real-time. Office Lens removes shadows and wonky angles, increasing legibility for students with different learning abilities.
Moreover, Office Lens can convert these images into PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, making it easy for teachers and students to edit and work on class materials. Teachers can use Office Lens to save notes and resources to OneNote, OneDrive, or a local device, keeping materials organized and readily accessible.
Quizzes and surveys are a fun and interactive way to boost student engagement. By creating forms, polls, and surveys, teachers can assess students’ understanding of course materials and gather feedback on classes. This helps teachers gather information and opinions more efficiently, which can be used to improve future classes. Teachers can personalize forms by including various question types, themes, and branching logic for instant analysis.
By creating graphs and charts in real-time, teachers can identify areas where students are struggling or require extra assistance, allowing them to adjust class materials accordingly. Forms can be integrated with other Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, making it simple to share documents, create quizzes and surveys, and collaborate with others.
7. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams lets teachers create a virtual classroom and facilitates communication with students. Educators can create channels for different subjects or projects, share files and resources, and communicate with students through chat, voice, or video calls. Using Microsoft Teams, educators can host virtual class meetings to review lesson plans and host insightful class discussions. Breakout rooms help create smaller group conversations and projects.
Teachers and students can use Microsoft Teams to collaborate on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, allowing teachers to share class notes and presentations for students to work on during class. It gives teachers and students new ways to communicate: teachers are able to send direct messages to individuals or groups to ensure understanding, or they can create a post with discussion topics and other useful information on the class Team’s channel. Microsoft Teams is full of tips and tricks and is the ultimate tech solution for effective classroom teaching.
Acer TravelMate: Your ideal tech companion for modern classrooms
You may be wondering whether or not your old classroom computer can handle all of the amazing technologies mentioned above. The Acer TravelMate certainly can. Here are five features that make the Acer TravelMate your ideal tech companion for effective classroom teaching.
As teachers, we are expected to be a beacon for students. They read our facial expressions and mouth movements when pronouncing words and as such, making it vital that students can see us clearly both in the classroom and on-screen. The Acer TravelMate features a high-definition (HD) webcam that makes it easier for students and teachers to see each other clearly, enhancing the overall learning experience through excellent video quality in virtual classes.
Privacy should be the number one concern for teachers of online classes. The Acer TravelMate gives a savvy solution to this problem by offering a camera shutter that blocks the webcam when it is not in use. Knowing that children are protected off-screen gives students, teachers, and parents peace of mind.
Teachers and students must ensure they can be heard clearly when using Teams, PowerPoint, the Presenter Coach, or other apps. Noisy environments can disturb group discussions and impact the quality of lesson delivery, so good microphone quality is essential for enhanced understanding of class materials. Dual microphones facilitate this by making it easier for students and teachers to understand each other, and is helpful when multiple people are speaking at once during group discussions.
It may seem like an insignificant detail, but upward-facing speakers can provide better and greater audio volume. This enhances the overall audio experience for apps like Teams and the Immersive Reader and lets students hear teachers more clearly. Good communication is essential for a meaningful learning experience, and upward-facing speakers can help.
Wacom AES Stylus
A dockable Wacom AES stylus is a useful tool for creating digital teaching materials and allows educators to draw more precise diagrams and charts when creating or presenting digital content. It also lets them accurately annotate documents using apps such as OneNote.
As teachers, we are responsible for helping students achieve their goals and be the best learners they can be. Technology gives teachers a huge helping hand and can help enhance the learning experience. It can aid students in improving their reading and presentation skills and create digital notebooks to reduce the amount of books they have to carry. Many educators are moving on from traditional education styles towards ones that integrate technology to facilitate a new hybrid learning approach. When combined with outstanding features like upward-facing speakers and an HD webcam, the Acer TravelMate stands to be a perfect companion for teachers to effectively leverage the latest technologies for the classroom.
10 Must Have Firefox Extensions
Firefox isn't just about speed and privacy; the extensions or add-ons make it a powerhouse. From guarding passwords to tuning your screen's brightness, there's likely an add-on tailored just for your needs.
Think Firefox is missing functionality? With almost 30,000 add-ons, an extension probably exists to fill that gap. Dive into our top 10 picks to transform your Firefox experience.
1) Grammar and spell checking: Grammarly
Stop second-guessing "effect" vs. "affect." Typos and grammar missteps can dent your online reputation. With Grammarly, your writing will improve instantly.
It rectifies grammar mistakes, amps up vocabulary choices, and fine-tunes your writing style in real time. Perfect for ensuring your content is polished and professional.
This add-on shines for folks whose day revolves around typing - be it emails, crafting social media posts, or penning down web content.
* On-the-go grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style checks whether you're drafting emails or tweeting.
* Instant suggestions to refine your text with a mere click.
* Write better without googling grammar guides or bugging a friend.
* Streamlined user experience: No need to pay unless opting for advanced features.
Every writer, novice or pro, can benefit from Grammarly. Make it your writing sidekick.
2) Dark mode everywhere: Dark Reader
Tired of websites straining your eyes? Switch to Dark Reader, a Firefox add-on that switches any page to dark mode, even sites without it.
Dark Reader inverts bright colors, making them high contrast and easy on the eyes. Turning on dark mode makes it easier to work at night with less stress on your eyes. Customize brightness, contrast, and other settings for a comfortable reading experience.
* Instantly switches to high-contrast dark themes.
* Customize settings for a tailored visual experience.
* Eye Health: Reduce eye strain to make extended browsing more comfortable.
* Better Sleep: Less blue light exposure helps you wind down better at night.
For night owls and anyone who spends significant time online, Dark Reader is a sight for sore eyes.
3) Next-Level image viewer: Viewhance
Firefox's native image-viewer is bare bones. Viewhance supercharges it, offering image manipulation, including zoom, flip, and rotate, all without ever leaving your browser window. No more toggling between apps.
* Swift Shortcuts: Over 10 keyboard commands to streamline actions.
* Easy Navigation: Hover to reveal a handy floating menu at the top-left.
* Animated Image Support: Whether GIFs, APNGs, or WEBP, extract frames seamlessly.
* Custom Playback and Display: Tailor your media experience from autoplay to volume control.
* Save Time: Get advanced features without juggling extra software.
* View it All: Catch every detail, whether animated images or SVGs.
If you use Firefox's native image tool regularly, Viewhance is your next upgrade. From easy customization to its swift shortcuts, it's designed to blend seamlessly into your browsing routine.
4) Text-to-speech voice reader: Read Aloud
Let your ears take over. Read Aloud converts webpage text to clear, audible speech. Perfect for those multitasking moments or when you want to kick back and listen.
Read Aloud uses text-to-speech (TTS) technology to transform any webpage, PDF, or EPUB into audio. Tailor your listening experience - pick from diverse male and female voices, adjust the pitch, and set your preferred pace.
* Voice Variety: Multiple male and female voices to choose from.
* Custom Playback: Adjust reading speed to your liking.
* Multitask with Ease: Listen to articles while cooking, working out, or commuting.
* Language Flexibility: Supports over 40 languages for a truly global experience.
Read Aloud is your go-to listening companion for those who are always on the move or just need a break from screen time.
5) Ultimate bookmark management: Raindrop.io
Eliminate bookmarks chaos. Raindrop.io lets you save and organize web content, from articles to videos. Find them quickly with tags and dedicated collections. Say goodbye to endless searching.
Raindrop.io ensures your most valuable web content remains within reach. Clip your favorite articles, images, videos, and PDFs from across the web. Even if a website goes offline, your saved content remains untouched. With free and paid plans to suit your storage needs, you can save 100Mb or 10Gb of files per month.
* Effortless Organization: Thematic collections, auto-tags, and custom filters. Plus, manual sorting with drag'n'drop.
* Full Content Access: Every web page and PDF you save is fully searchable.
* Universal Access: Access bookmarks anytime, anywhere. Available across browsers and devices.
* Time Saver: Spend less time searching and improve your productivity.
Never forget anything. For researchers, avid readers, and anyone looking to declutter their digital space, Raindrop.io will transform your bookmarking game forever.
6) Language learning while browsing: Toucan
Want to learn a new language while browsing? Toucan transforms your web surfing into a language lesson. It replaces certain words on web pages with their foreign equivalents, so you absorb vocabulary on the go!
* Subtle Word Swaps: Seamlessly integrates foreign words into your reading.
* Progressive Learning: Starts with single words and evolves to larger text blocks as you master the language.
* Diverse Language Choices: Explore 12 languages, from Japanese to French and Chinese to Hindi.
* Effortless Acquisition: Embraces the scientific approach of language acquisition. Learn not by rote but by immersion.
* Everyday Learning: Turns your daily web scrolls into practical language lessons.
* Completely Free: The extension has no costs.
Toucan's subtle immersion technique is revolutionary if you want to learn a language without derailing your day. Dive into a world where browsing meets learning.
7) Elevate your YouTube game: Enhancer for YouTube™
Turbocharge YouTube with the Enhancer for YouTube™ Firefox extension. Control your playback speed, dodge those pesky ads, and set video quality. Make YouTube bend to your every whim.
* Shortcut Supreme: Set up dozens of keyboard shortcuts. Even tweak the volume using your mouse wheel.
* Custom Controls: Personalize player settings: volume, speed, and your go-to video quality.
* Remove Ads: Control and filter out ads for uninterrupted viewing.
* Your Tube: Fine-tune YouTube to match your preferences.
* Distraction-Free: Minimize disturbances with ad controls and cinema mode.
* Enhanced Engagement: Dive deeper into your content with custom themes and controls.
Enhancer for YouTube™ reshapes your viewing experience.
8) Online security simplified: Bitwarden
Bitwarden is a free, open-source password manager that does the heavy lifting for you. Store, generate, and access passwords securely across your devices. Say goodbye to forgotten passwords.
* World-Class Encryption: Advanced end-to-end encryption keeps your passwords protected.
* Password Pro: Generate unique, random passwords tailored to each site's security requirements.
* Easy Security: Protecting your data doesn't have to be complicated. Bitwarden makes it intuitive.
* One Vault, All Devices: Access your passwords anywhere, anytime. Whether it's your phone, laptop, or tablet.
* Never Forget: With Bitwarden, your passwords are always at your fingertips.
Bitwarden is your digital bodyguard. Dive into a safer online realm with this password manager.
9) Ad and tracker blocking: uBlock Origin
* Dynamic Filters: Employ multiple up-to-date filters to block ads, tracking, and harmful URLs.
* Cookie Control: Reduces interruptions from cookie pop-up notifications.
* Streamlined Surfing: Enjoy an ad-and tracker-free browsing experience. Block ads before videos load.
* Wallet-Friendly: Absolutely free and open-source.
uBlock Origin offers you enhanced privacy to navigate with confidence and fewer distractions.
10) Tame your tabs: Simple Tab Groups
Browser clutter? Organize your tabs into visually appealing groups with Simple Tab Groups. Create, modify, and quickly change tab groups and bid farewell to tab overload.
With Simple Tab Groups, neatly categorize tabs into themed groups like "social media" or "shopping." Click a group, and all your go-to saved sites pop open. This tool is a lifesaver for multitaskers.
* Visual Organization: Group your tabs with clear, aesthetically pleasing visuals.
* Task-Focused: Easily switch between projects and tasks.
* Chaos Reduction: No more endless scrolling through countless tabs or bookmarks.
* Boost Productivity: Easily locate and switch between ongoing tasks.
* Cleaner Workspace: Enjoy a neater browser environment, enhancing focus.
* User-Friendly: Intuitive to use, no tech wizardry needed.
Tab chaos, be gone! Simple Tab Groups helps you organize your tabs for a faster, more productive browsing experience. Multitaskers rejoice!
Within Firefox lies a powerhouse of extensions, ready to serve your every need. Whether it's enhancing your YouTube experience, safeguarding your passwords, or blocking intrusive ads, these add-ons will boost your efficiency. Dive deep into the world of Firefox add-ons and let these tools empower your browsing experience.
A Sneak Peek into the Ghostly Realm of OXENFREE II: Lost Signals
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, the follow-up to the supernatural, narrative-driven thriller Oxenfree, will launch on July 12, 2023, on mobile, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Steam. The game was developed by Night School Studio, an indie games studio that was recently acquired by Netflix. Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals launches seven years after the original Oxenfree debuted its radio-tuning, time-looping, coming-of-age story. “Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals will take players on a gripping narrative-driven adventure featuring an all-new cast of characters and original story,” Netflix teased in a press release.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals
Taking place five years after the events of Oxenfree, Lost Signals follows Riley Poverly, a character who did not appear in the first game. Riley has reluctantly returned to her hometown of Camena to investigate unnaturally occurring radio frequency signals causing disturbances in electronic equipment. Riley soon discovers a long history of ghostly happenings on the nearby Edwards Island and becomes entangled in a frightening, supernatural mystery. Riley takes an entry-level job as an environmental researcher, and one of her main tasks is to plant radio transmitters around Camena to help a research group gather data about the electromagnetic signals that have been plaguing the coastal town. Not everything is as it appears, however, and soon Riley finds herself in conflict with Parentage, a mysterious collective that seems to be manipulating the same strange anomaly that was first discovered in Oxenfree.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals gameplay mechanics
Players will shape the story through Riley’s actions and dialogue choices, taking advantage of Night School Studio’s signature dialogue system. The system involves players selecting dialogue responses from options that pop up above Riley’s head in the form of speech bubbles that slowly start to fade away, imbuing conversations with a natural, organic flow. Each dialogue choice affects Riley’s character development and relationships between characters, influencing the available story paths. Throughout your journey in Camena, your conversations with Jacob, your main companion, and the other characters you encounter along the way will shape how you are perceived and the eventual story outcome.
Once a dialogue response has been selected, Riley will interrupt whoever is speaking to immediately say the chosen response, and this can feel jarring, but the game often tries to make Riley’s interruptions feel natural by having the other characters say empty sentences like “But, you know, it’s something, like,” that a player would feel comfortable cutting short. These kinds of filler sentences, which are ultimately redundant yet commonly used in everyday speech, are a big part of what makes the characters in Lost Signals believable. You can also choose to remain silent during conversations; the other characters will react to that. For example, if you do not respond to a question, the other character will assume that you either do not know the answer or do not want to answer and will react accordingly.
Through this dialogue system, you can control the pace of conversations. If you want to listen to what a character has to say, you can let them speak before responding, although dialogue options may disappear if you wait too long. If you feel strongly about something, you can interject. And if it feels appropriate, you can stay silent. This dialogue system allows the timing of responses to be as important as what is being said.
Those who have played Oxenfree will be familiar with the unique radio mechanic it featured that allowed Alex, the main character of the game, to communicate with mysterious specters and manipulate her world. In Lost Signals, this idea has evolved. Lost Signals features a new walkie-talkie mechanic that puts the player in charge of when and how Riley will engage in conversations with off-screen residents of Camena. From mysterious strangers to locals in need of assistance, the walkie-talkie adds a sense of scale and depth by bringing in side quests and an additional layer of choice. When Riley receives a call on the walkie-talkie, she can decide whether to respond to it, and if she does take the call, she can decide whether to assist the caller.
The walkie-talkie allows Riley to speak to a much wider cast of characters than just nearby companions. The walkie-talkie can be opened at just about any time throughout the game, and players can browse the radio channels until they find someone for Riley to talk to.
Time tears are rifts that Riley can open to explore a location in another timeline and see it as it was in the past. In a 2021 preview of Lost Signals, Night School Studio showcased a section of the game in which Riley and Jacob have become trapped while traversing through a cave. Riley opens a time tear to find another way out. The pair are then taken back in time to 1899, at which time the cave happened to be a mine with a working elevator shaft that facilitates their escape. Time tears at other places may open up clues to the backstories of the characters in intriguing and mysterious ways.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals graphics and music
The sound design in Lost Signals is one of the game’s most crucial elements and helps build the mood of the game and support its story. The distorted sounds from the walkie-talkie, other ghostly sound effects, and the deeply atmospheric music that follows characters throughout work beautifully together to capture the haunting atmosphere. The soundtrack was created by electronic musician SCNTFC.
Lost Signals features subtle cartoon-like characters that appear tiny atop beautifully drawn backdrops. When Riley and Jacob travel through time tears, the screen fuzzes out like an old VHS tape to exaggerate the time skip. These types of visual glitches, which also include sending things topsy-turvy or completely blurring out the field of vision, intensify during various creepy situations.
Netflix’s shift toward gaming
Netflix, the giant of the film and TV streaming industry, has taken a number of steps toward expanding into video games, starting with the formation of its games division in 2021 and the hiring of Mike Verdu as the company’s “vice president of game development.” Night School Studio was the first gaming studio to be acquired by Netflix. Since then, the streaming giant has acquired several other studios, including Spry Fox, Next Games, and Boss Fight Entertainment. Netflix also opened a new gaming studio in Southern California and established an internal games studio in Helsinki, Finland.
In a recent press release, Netflix revealed that it has 40 games slated for launch this year and 70 in development with its partners. This comes atop the 55 titles the company has already released since its games division was launched. Netflix is primarily focused on mobile gaming, and several of the games already launched are role-playing games. We reviewed the most popular titles they have on offer and came up with a list of the top 10 Netflix games to play.
Oxenfree 2 release date
Lost Signals is slated for release on July 12, 2023, and the game is coming to Switch, PlayStation, Steam, and Netflix. Although Lost Signals will not be released on Xbox, be sure to check out the Xbox Game Pass and see why Acer is an official sponsor.
Gaming in Harmony: Feng Shui Tips for PC Gaming Rooms
PC gaming and feng shui are not words that you see too often in the same sentence. As a gamer, perhaps you are familiar with the practice of feng shui in creating a balanced, harmonious gaming room setup? Or maybe you are more into a chaotic and messy style of pc gaming setup? Whatever your gaming setup, chances are you aim for the best performance possible in your gaming. What if we told you that by following some of the concepts of feng shui, you may be able to maximize the flow of energy in your room, and improve your gaming, as well as other aspects of your life? If this sounds good, then read on, we will explain the essential concepts of feng shui, and how you can use it to create a better gaming computer setup.
What is feng shui?
In western countries, feng shui is a term that is mostly banded around in relation to interior design or the correct placement of furniture. In common with other Chinese philosophical terms and concepts, such as Zen (Chan), the diverse practices that constitute feng shui are often misunderstood, over-mystified, or even lost in translation.
First, let’s find out what feng shui really is! Feng shui (風水) literally means wind-water. In practical terms, feng shui is the philosophy that the elements of wind and water can be channeled to direct the flow of energy in rooms, buildings and towns in order to bring harmony and good fortune. This energy, or qi (氣), is the vital cosmic energy that practitioners believe sustains all life.
Your internal energy, and consequently, your good fortune, directly benefit from managing your environment to optimize the energy. By aligning your external environment according to the cosmological, astronomical, and astrological rules of feng shui, harmony and balance will be achieved. This will maximize the energy flow, and result in good fortune.
What are the essential concepts of Feng Shui?
Before we harness the awesome power of this ancient Chinese tradition to set up your PC gaming room, let’s dig a little deeper and discover five of the essential concepts behind feng shui.
1. Qi (氣）
We touched on qi above, but with no equivalent in western science or religion, it can be a rather tricky concept to grasp. A central tenet of Chinese traditional medicine, Daoism, martial arts, and many other fields of traditional Chinese culture, qi is the vital energy that permeates everything. In the context of a feng shui room, the retention and dissipation of qi inside a space affects the occupants. Different objects affect the flow of qi in different ways, with positive qi moving in curved lines, while negative qi travels straight. By maximizing positive qi, health and prosperity of the occupants will follow.
2. Yin Yang (陰陽)
Another concept originating in ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is now available to help with your feng shui room layout! As the well-known symbol illustrates, yin and yang are opposite, interconnected forces. In relation to feng shui, the force of yin is defined by darkness, cold, and softness, symbolizing femininity, night and the moon. Yang is defined by brightness, heat and hardness, symbolizing masculinity and the sun. Obviously different rooms require different balances of yin and yang. Your feng shui desktop may need the yang energy of the sun, and a wooden tabletop, coupled with the yin energy of a water feature. Balance of these two complementary forces can create harmony inside and out.
3. The five elements (五行）
The five elements (wuxing) of fire, water, wood, metal, and earth is a philosophical concept applied to a wide array of traditional Chinese practices. The wuxing are the essential elements of the universe, overcoming and succeeding each other in an endless cycle. As with the other concepts in our brief discussion, the significance and application of the five elements varies somewhat between different practices. In relation to feng shui, the wuxing can be used to control energy flow, creating balance and harmony in a space. Each of the five elements are associated with various aspects of nature, all interacting according to cycles of interaction that are either generative, or destructive. This interaction can be influenced by arranging the energy flow to create an optimal space. The five elements all have corresponding colors and materials, which can be applied to decoration and furnishing in order to optimize the energy flow.
4. Bagua (八卦）
Following the concepts discussed above, we arrive at the bagua, the eight trigrams of Daoist cosmology. These broken (yin) and unbroken (yang) lines are commonly referred to as the eight trigrams. In the contemporary western application of feng shui, these eight trigrams are used as a feng shui (bagua) map to arrange interior and exterior spaces. A bagua map is a somewhat simplified approach to feng shui, where each of the eight trigrams represent a crucial aspect of human existence. The bagua can be used to identify energy flow and blockages in a space, which can then be altered accordingly, by repositioning, removing or adding items. In this manner, optimal energy can flow to each of the corresponding trigrams, resulting in a harmonious existence. Here’s a beginner’s guide worth checking out.
5. The command position (furniture placement)
If you’re still reading, congratulations, now we get to the more practical part of our discussion! The command position, not unlike a command center is the place where you are in control of your space. Let’s consider the command position in relation to setting up your gaming room. Start by situating your desk diagonally from the door, with a clear, uninterrupted view. That way, you will be able to control who enters and interrupts your gaming. A solid wall behind you, ideally with no window directly above will further add to the sense of security, as will an equal space on either side of your desk. In terms of your seat, get the best gaming chair you can afford, with a solid, supportive back, and headrest.
How to use feng shui to help set up your gaming computer?
Setting up your gaming computer should be an exciting, well planned exercise. Again, most of us don’t have perfect, open plan spaces to furnish as we wish, but don’t worry, feng shui is flexible. Try to adapt some of the elements discussed above, even small changes can have big impacts on a space.
“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water.”
* Many gaming rooms lack yang energy, so investing in a wooden table, or even a few house plants and or some red, orange or yellow objects might be a good start!
* Let the light in! Although you don’t want too much light in the room as it may interfere with your screen display, light can help to optimize the energy in your space. Using natural, or balanced artificial lighting will enhance the flow of qi in your gaming room, ensuring that you perform at your utmost.
* Next, set up your gaming computer according to the command position, ideally in a separate space from where you sleep. By balancing the five elements, you will be able to maximize the flow of qi, which in turn inspire you to perform at your best.
* Don’t fall into the gamer’s trap of black metal and dark toned plastic furnishings! For a guide to harnessing the power of feng shui using objects and colors, check out this article.
* If you’ve got trash or clutter on your desk, clear it off! A clean, well organized space maximizes energy flow. Keep your gaming area dedicated to the art of gaming and free of distractions.
* Cables and wires should also be concealed if possible, and organized, so as not to disrupt energy flow. Get your duster out and keep the dust off your desk and your computer: a clean, well organized and maintained will help with your gaming performance.
We hope that you’ve gained some insight into feng shui from reading this article. Whatever your gaming setup looks like, chances are that a few alterations, adapted to your personal preferences could benefit you greatly. Applying the principles of feng shui to your gaming setup can contribute to a harmonious environment. By optimizing the energy flow in your personal space, you will not only enhance your daily gaming experience, but also your life as a whole. Try it!
9 Easy Ways to Boost Web Security in Google Chrome
As we navigate a digital age where cyber-attacks strike every 11 seconds, reinforcing Chrome's security is vital.
Today's cybercriminals have evolved into masters of deception. Their skill in creating websites indistinguishable from the real deal means that our passwords - those keys to our online worlds - face relentless siege.
With Google Chrome's arsenal of in-built protective tools, amplifying its defenses isn't a mere recommendation; it's a necessity. We outline 10 ways to boost your security.
1) Tweak Chrome's Safe Browsing for optimal security
Google Chrome's Safe Browsing is enabled by default, guarding you against shady sites and dangerous downloads. But you can up your defense by switching to Enhanced Protection. Google's data suggests those activating Enhanced Protection are 35% less likely to fall victim to phishing scams.
Let's dive into your options for Safe Browsing:
* Enhanced Protection: Proactive, offering real-time alerts for suspect sites, downloads, extensions, and even password breaches. Note: This grants Google deeper insights into your browsing activities as you're sending your browsing activities.
* Standard Protection: Alerts you to questionable sites, downloads, and extensions. You also have the choice to get password breach notifications and to share extra security data with Google.
* Advanced: For those feeling tech-savvy, tailor the settings to fit your needs.
* No Protection: Ditch the safety net with no safety alerts or precautions.
Steps to modify Safe Browsing settings:
* Click the Three Dots in Chrome's top right.
* Go to Settings > Privacy and Security > Security.
* Under the Safe Browsing section, pick your desired setting.
* If maximum security is your aim, opt for Enhanced Protection. Remember that this mode allows Chrome to check URLs via Safe Browsing, linking the data to your Google Account momentarily.
2) Leverage Google Password Manager for strong passwords
Never compromise on password strength again. Google's Password Manager remembers all your passwords and ensures they're both strong and unique. Bid farewell to "86753099" and welcome in a new era of cyber-security.
How to use Google Password Manager:
* In Chrome, click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon.
* Select Settings.
* Under Autofill, click on Passwords.
* Ensure Offer to save passwords and Auto Sign-in are enabled.
* To check or modify saved passwords, scroll to the Saved Passwords section. To generate a strong password for a new account, click on the key icon when signing up on a website, and Google will suggest a robust password for you.
For more on password protection, read our password security guide for additional tips.
3) Fortify your passwords with enhanced encryption
While storing passwords in Google Password Manager is uber handy, you can beef up their security with enhanced encryption.
Here's your pathway to bolstering password encryption:
* Standard Encryption: The default choice. It uses Google's encryption methods, which store your passwords on their servers. When passwords zoom across the internet, they're cloaked, making it trickier for cybercriminals to snatch them. Yet, there's a slim possibility Google might peek.
* Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase (AES): This cranks up security with encrypted passwords on both ends. The perk? Only you possess the unlock key. On the flip side, it slightly complicates the syncing process, as you'll need the passphrase every time you activate sync on a new device. Some features like site suggestions, online password viewing, and history syncing are also disabled.
To arm Chrome with AES, a quick dive into settings gets the job done.
Adjust Chrome's encryption settings:
* Head to Chrome's Settings in the Three Dots menu in Chrome's top right.
* Tap You and Google in the left menu (ensure you're logged into your Google Account).
* Tap Sync.
* Under Sync, click Encryption Options.
* Choose an encryption method. For standard encryption, select Encrypt Synced Passwords with Your Google Account. Otherwise, select Advanced Encryption with Sync Passphrase for fortified encryption, which keeps passwords safer from prying eyes.
4) Deploy Chrome's Safety Check
Bolster your browser's defenses with Chrome's Safety Check. It actively scans for:
* Compromised, weak, or reused passwords
* Pending updates
* Confirmation that Safe Browsing is active
* Potentially harmful extensions
Steps to run a Safety Check:
* Click the three vertical dots next to your profile icon in Chrome.
* Select Settings.
* Navigate to Privacy and security on the left panel.
* Tap the Check Now button under Safety Check.
* If issues emerge, click the prompt and follow on-screen guidance.
5) Clear cache and cookie data
Chrome stashes info from websites you visit, storing them in its cache and cookies. Cookies can be time savers, keeping you logged in or personalizing settings on websites you visit. Yet, they can have a dark side when it comes to security:
* Tracking Cookies: Advertisers monitor your online activities and build a profile about you. In the wrong hands, they reveal much about your habits, preferences, and even location.
* Third-Party Cookies: Cookies from another site that can be exploited to monitor your actions without you knowing.
* Session Hijacking: Stealing your session cookie lets attackers impersonate you on a site and access your account.
* Expired Cookies: Cookies that don't expire properly increase vulnerability.
* Weak Encryption: Unencrypted cookies can be snatched, especially on insecure networks.
Clear your cookies? A smart move for more privacy and tighter security.
Steps to clear cache and cookies in Chrome:
* Click the three vertical dots in the top right corner of Chrome.
* Select Settings.
* Scroll down and click Privacy and security.
* Choose Clear browsing data.
* Ensure Cookies and other site data and Cached images and files are on.
* Click Clear data to finish the job.
Note: Doing this might log you out from some sites, so keep those passwords handy!
6) Opt-out of Topics API in Chrome
After shelving FLoC, Google's Topics API refines interest-based advertising, sidestepping the intrusiveness of third-party cookies. Where FLoC categorized users into "cohorts," Topics API tailors ads to your specific interests from 470 topics.
Your Chrome browser keeps track of topics you seem interested in over time. Chrome can then deduce which subjects are your top interests by checking which topics appear most frequently in your browsing history. This list is updated weekly to offer advertisers a refined targeting method without peeking at your specific site visits.
Curious about your topical profile through Google's lens? Navigate through Chrome's settings to discover. You can block specific topics or opt-out altogether if you value your privacy.
Want to opt out? Here's how:
* Open Chrome Settings.
* Navigate to Privacy and Security on the left panel.
* Select Ad Privacy. Choose to turn on or off the following:
* Add topics: Use the Ad topics toggle to either switch off entirely or manage individual topics under Your topics.
* Site-suggested ads: Websites you browse can gauge your preferences and pitch ads accordingly. Choose to toggle this on or off.
* Ad measurement: This allows sites and advertisers to gauge their ads' performance. Opt to disable.
7) Prioritize secure browsing with HTTPS-First mode
Many websites rely on Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). But HTTP has a glaring flaw: it leaves your privacy out in the open.
With HTTP, browser requests to view a site are in plain text for all to see. Any nosy hacker monitoring the connection can read your requests, posing risks when keying in passwords or credit card numbers.
Enter HTTPS, where the "S" stands for secure. Notice the padlock icon next to a URL in your browser. That's your sign of a secure connection.
Boost your browsing protection by activating Chrome's HTTPS-First mode. This setting nudges Chrome towards HTTPS and waves a red flag when it stumbles upon less secure HTTP.
Activate HTTPS-First mode:
* Launch Chrome Settings.
* Head to Privacy and security > Security.
* Under the Advanced section, turn on Always use secure connections.
8) Be cautious with Chrome Extensions
Extensions might seem like the Swiss Army knife of Chrome - fixing your grammar, blocking annoying ads, and more. Yet, some can lurk with darker intentions, from browser hijacking to covert spying to malware.
Rule of thumb? Stick with trusted sources when adding extensions. Google recently added web store badges to help you rank the extension's credibility.
Want to check or manage your extensions? Type chrome://extensions/ into Chrome's address bar. Here, the Details button will give you a peek into each extension's permissions and a direct link to its Chrome Web Store page. And if an extension seems shady, remove it!
9) Keep Chrome up to date
Staying updated is your first line of defense. Chrome frequently scans for updates and fetches them instantly. These updates apply automatically the next time you restart your browser.
Haven't closed Chrome recently? You might notice a pending update indicator at the top right. Click Update or restart Chrome. The process is quick, ensuring you won't lose your tabs.
Cybersecurity isn't a set-it-and-forget-it deal; it demands ongoing attention. Knowing the ins and outs of potential risks, from weak passwords to invasive tracking cookies, puts you in control. By diving deep into Chrome's security features, you can make your online experience safer and more private.
An Early Access Look at Witchfire
Witchfire is an upcoming dark fantasy first-person shooter set in an alternative world in which witches are real and very dangerous, and where players take on the role of witch hunters in a war between powerful witches and the Church. The title is being developed by The Astronauts and was first announced more than six years ago with a brief reveal at E3 2017. The game was released in early access mode on September 20 on the Epic Games Store.
Who is the team behind Witchfire?
Unless you have played The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you have probably not heard of The Astronauts—an independent game developer made up of less than ten people and operating out of Warsaw, Poland. The Vanishing is their debut title; a weird fiction mystery game for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One that sold more than a million copies. The fact that the same developers are now working on Witchfire is significant for several reasons. The Vanishing won countless awards at the time of its release, including a prized BAFTA award, for its incredible storytelling and eye popping graphics that had no business being in this generation of gaming. With their first title, The Astronauts firmly established their reputation as skilled developers that can deliver beautiful games. The premise of Witchfire, as a frantic shooter, seems well suited to The Astronauts—some of the members of the team previously worked on first-person shooters Bulletstorm and Painkiller, and the team's prior effort, The Vanishing, serves to demonstrate their ability to incorporate amazing graphics into an engrossing story.
What is Witchfire about?
Witchfire was originally conceived as a sci-fi survival title; however, over the course of its 7-year development, The Astronauts transformed the game into what it is today: a combination of dark fantasy roguelite with first-person shooter mechanics. In their deadly war against witches, the Church has been calling on forbidden pagan magic to turn willing sinners into immortal witch hunters called preyers. As preyers, players are tasked with hunting and killing the infamous witch of the Black Sea using guns and spells. That journey from sci-fi survival to grimdark shooter brought with it changes just as significant as its shift in setting, tone, and genre.
Most recently, the team decided to shift the title from arena-style to open-world combat. Although Witchfire is not a fully open-world game, it does now feature what the studio calls open-world levels. That means it will be up to the player to decide how and in what order to explore a given area. The change to this new approach from one that was more akin to something like Killing Floor led to significant work and the decision to delay Early Access release to this year.
In the game, players will inhabit the shoes of a badass revolver-wielding witch hunter. Armed with old-fashioned weapons and forbidden magic, witch hunters are tasked by Vatican sorcerers to help the war effort against the very real and very dangerous witches and other threats that abound. An evil witch’s influence has stretched across the land, awakening an army of the dead and all sorts of other monstrosities. The player's primary mission is to find the infamous witch of the Black Sea, destroy the phantom army that protects her, and retrieve a mysterious artifact that can finally turn the tide of war.
The Astronauts have been fairly ambiguous with regards to information about the story of Witchfire. In a 2018 blog post, studio cofounder and creative director Adrian Chmielarz confirmed that Witchfire is not a traditional cinematics-filled journey like, for example, Uncharted or Bioshock, where you spend a relatively short time in an area, unlock a cinematic, and move on to the next area. Instead, Chmielarz likens The Astronauts’ approach to the storytelling done by From Software games. Which means Witchfire will offer various branching pathways that each tell snippets of the game’s story through the strength of its world design.
The Preyer short story
In October 2022, The Astronauts released a short story, The Preyer, that gave a brief look into the lore and powers at work in the game. Written by Chmielarz, The Preyer is set in the world of Witchfire and serves as an introduction to the world and some of what players can expect from the theme. The story unfolds in the forest one night, where a preyer, close to death, is tracking a witch when a group of bandits show up and make threats, not knowing who they’ve encountered. The short story also includes illustrations from artist Bernard Kowalczuk using a style similar to that of the game itself.
As a first-person shooter, Witchfire blends traditional shooting elements with the backdrop of a fantasy game in a roguelite style. The goal is to find some big guns and blow mystical enemies to pieces. The gameplay borrows from Bioshock and Dishonored by allowing players to cast magical energy with their free hand. Gunplay looks frantic and intense and has immediate arena-shooter vibes similar to Painkiller, DOOM, and Shadow Warrior 3.
Combat mechanics involve jumping, strafing, and dodging and are heavily focused on smart player movement while taking care of crowd control situations. There are crossbows, shotguns, repeating rifles, and revolvers, as well as some great spell effects that can cause chain reactions or freeze a powerful enemy mid-attack.
In a gameplay trailer released this February, Chmielarz delved into the intricacies of the game's weaponry, specifically focusing on a powerful hand cannon known as Hunger. This formidable firearm rewards players for landing critical hits by granting them extra powerful bullets upon reloading. As players progress through Hunger's Attunements, they can increase the power of their bullets even further by consistently landing critical hits. At the final level of Attunement, Hunger becomes even deadlier as the first body shot counts as a critical hit, allowing players to freeze their enemies if they manage to land all critical shots.
Spellcraft involves light spells and heavy spells, with the former being quicker to deploy and costing less stamina but not being as powerful as the latter. The different types of spellcraft available to witch hunters to use against enemies include spells, hexes, and curses, and the majority of spells comprise the four core elements: air, earth, fire, and water. Each has unique properties, such as setting enemies aflame and increasing the damage players can take. Using different elemental spells in quick succession can achieve combined effects.
Players will have complete freedom over the pace and direction of their exploration in any given region. This shift to an open-level design transformed the game from its original vision into an entirely new and superior experience, providing players with a greater sense of freedom and agency and making new paths to mastery available.
Built using Unreal Engine 4, Witchfire uses advanced photogrammetry to achieve a gorgeous and immersive dark fantasy world for players to explore, and the game's graphics look as though they could compete in the AAA space. The game features an impressive amount of particle effects, fire, explosions, and more that take up screen real estate, making for a vibrant and happening world.
The photogrammetry technique used to design the environments in Witchcraft involves finding structures and areas in real life, taking various shots from various angles, and loading them into a smart piece of software that rebuilds and renders them. The whole process takes a lot of time and effort as the images need to be captured in exactly the right light, and after the initial wireframe is reconstructed, a lot of texturing and polishing needs to be placed on top. The end result is exceptional photorealism. It is partly for this reason that, for the time being, Witchfire is being developed exclusively for the high-end PCs that can run all of this while processing the frantic fights that will be going down. Witchfire will support DLSS 3.0 for users with Nvidia’s top-tier graphics cards, specifically the GeForce RTX 4000 series GPUs. DLSS 3.0 will enable the game to run at much better framerates even at high quality settings.
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If you're in the market for a new gaming machine that will deliver the best playing experience in Witchcraft, consider taking a look at Acer’s Nitro 5 gaming laptop. This machine is excellent value for money, coming in at a low price point yet still being capable of handling the most demanding modern games. Acer has given this particular model a decent amount of high-speed RAM, and its inclusion of a GeForce RTX™ 4000 series GPU, which supports DLSS 3.0, makes it capable of running Witchcraft and other modern games at ultrahigh quality. The price of this machine is kept low thanks to the screen, hard drive, and battery, all of which are smaller than those in similar but more expensive machines. The laptop also has a responsive full-size keyboard and trackpad.
Witchfire release date and platforms
Witchfire will be made available on PC, with it being restricted to Epic Games during early access. For those with an Xbox, check out the amazing selection of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. If you’re thinking of subscribing, please note that with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
How to Protect Your Laptop from Theft and Damage
Laptops are probably one of the most expensive gadgets we own. But like any technology, they are vulnerable to theft and damage. Taking an eye off our devices for just a second in a crowded public area could give thieves a golden opportunity to strike, taking our data and cherished photos along with them. Likewise, knocking a cup of coffee over the keyboard or accidentally dropping it on the floor can cause significant damage.
Digital nomads and hybrid workers have no choice but to carry their laptops around in a bag or backpack, but this also carries risk. Leaving a laptop unattended when working remotely from a coffee shop or public workspace is risky. Your device could get stolen and, in a worst-case scenario, hacked to access your private information. For thieves, stealing devices may simply be a way to make money, but for owners, it means losing something crucial to their everyday lives.
How can I protect my laptop from physical dangers?
Traveling with a laptop or leaving it unattended in a hotel room or coffee shop is risky. Here are some ways users can safeguard devices from physical dangers and damage for ultimate laptop protection.
1. Use a laptop lock
Laptop locks are handy gadgets that help prevent devices from being stolen. They are physical locks, much like bicycle locks, that keep devices grounded to a specific area. Laptop locks are a two-ended piece of equipment, with one end that slides into the device’s universal slot and one that wraps around an immovable object. It can be unlocked and released by entering the correct code.
Although not necessarily aesthetic, laptop locks work as an anti-theft device and deterrent for thieves. Securing a device to a table or chair leg in a coffee shop means thieves would have to work twice as hard to steal it.
2. Avoid leaving your laptop unattended
Working outside in a stunning coffee shop or even on a beach is great until we have to take a private call or bathroom break. It is crucial to always be wary of thieves and avoid leaving laptops or other devices unattended. We must bear in mind that thieves are not always obvious and that anyone could take a chance to swipe at an unattended laptop. Therefore, leaving laptops unattended is strongly discouraged.
3. Track your laptop
Some laptop devices come with a Find My Device setting and can be tracked if they are lost or stolen. Enabling this feature is relatively quick and easy, and it can be a godsend if devices are missing. Moreover, putting an AirTag or similar tracking device in a laptop bag can help locate devices before they are transported too far away. Tracking devices are a worthwhile investment and can be used in other scenarios too, such as keeping an eye on wallets, keys, and phones.
4. Protect laptops with shock-resistant bags or sleeves
Laptops are supposed to be portable devices, so it makes sense that we use a protective case or laptop backpack to protect them. After all, our laptops work hard to keep us connected and able to work. Good laptop bags or protective sleeves should be a perfect fit with no wiggle room for laptops to bounce around and have a separate compartment for chargers and cables. Waterproof fabric is a must-have to protect devices from sudden downpours while in transit.
5. Keep laptops on stable surfaces away from food and drinks
Bumpy or uneven surfaces are unsafe as devices could slip or fall. Moreover, setting drinks or food down on an unstable desk or table could cause accidental spillages. Laptop users should avoid sudden jolts or bumps to prevent devices from getting a nasty shock that could cause internal damage.
6. Clean your laptop on a regular basis
Regular cleaning prevents dust build-ups and can enhance the functionality of a laptop and cause overheating or freezing. It also keeps devices free from crumbs or food particles that could end up below keyboard keys or in ports. Cleaning a device includes more than just a quick wipe over. Blowing into ports or using a cylinder of compressed air helps remove hard-to-reach dust. Experts advise preventative cleaning should be conducted at least once a year to keep laptops dust-free and working smoothly. For day-to-day management, users can consider investing in a keyboard cover to prevent crumbs from falling between keys.
7. Consider getting insurance
We never know the value of insurance before we need it. If a device gets lost or stolen, insurance can often provide the safety net we need to purchase a new one. This is particularly important for costly or high-end devices that would be expensive to replace. When choosing insurance, you should consider daily habits, such as where the device is used and stored, so that brokers can provide the best policy for your needs and avoid any surprises when making a claim.
Protecting laptops and other devices from theft and damage contributes to their longevity. Although we never know what will happen in life, we can take action to mitigate potential harm to technology. Damage may be avoided by investing in a quality laptop case, sleeve, or backpack, and regular cleaning can prevent dirt from building up in the keyboard or ports. Users can reduce the risk of a stolen laptop by purchasing a lock and attaching it to an immovable object. Remember that vigilance is key to prevent thieves from taking personal objects, and try to avoid leaving devices unattended.